Niacin extended-release is a prescription medication that has been licensed to treat high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), among other conditions. It should be used in combination with a regimen of exercise, weight loss, limited alcohol use, and a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fats. Possible side effects include headache, heartburn, and flushing of the face and neck.
What Is Niacin Extended-Release?Niacin extended-release (Niaspan®) is a prescription medication that can be used to reduce triglyceride (a fat-like substance) and cholesterol levels in the body. Lowering the amount of these substances may help to prevent conditions such as heart disease, angina (chest pain), a stroke, or a heart attack. Niacin extended-release should be used in combination with diet and exercise.
As with any medicine, there are possible side effects with niacin extended-release. However, not everyone who takes it will experience side effects. In fact, most people tolerate it well. When side effects do occur, in most cases they are minor, meaning they require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. If side effects do occur, most people do not need to stop their medicine.
The most common niacin extended-release side effects include:
- Flushing of the face and neck
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Generalized pain
- Runny nose
- Rash and itching.
Other side effects (occurring in less than 5 percent of people) include but are not limited to:
- Muscle pain (see Niaspan and Muscle Pain)
- Serious breakdown of muscle (known as rhabdomyolysis)
- Insomnia (see Niaspan and Insomnia)
- Increased liver enzymes (see Niaspan and Liver Problems).
Keep in mind that if you are taking both niacin extended-release and a statin and you experience unexplained muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness, especially if you have a fever or feel ill, it is important to contact your healthcare provider immediately. This could be a sign of a serious, life-threatening muscle problem.
(Click Side Effects of Niacin Extended-Release to learn more.)