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NICOTINIC ACID works by reducing LDL ("bad") cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol. Niaspan contains niacin, also called nicotinic acid, a B vitamin (vitamin B3). It occurs naturally in plants and animals and is present in many multiple vitamin supplements.
Nicotinic acid is used to lower cholesterol and triglycerides (types of fat) in the blood. It is also used to lower the risk of heart attack in people with high cholesterol who have already had a heart attack. It is sometimes used to treat coronary artery disease (also called atherosclerosis).
You should not take Nicotinic acid if you are allergic to niacin, or if you have severe liver disease, a stomach ulcer, or active bleeding.
To make sure you can safely take Nicotinic acid, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
FDA pregnancy category C. Nicotinic acid may be harmful to an unborn baby when the medication is taken at doses to treat high cholesterol or other conditions. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Niacin can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Use Nicotinic acid exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Nicotinic acid is sometimes taken at bedtime with a low-fat snack. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Nicotinic acid can cause certain side effects, such as flushing (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin). These effects can be made worse if you drink alcohol or hot beverages shortly after you take Nicotinic acid. These effects should disappear over time as you keep taking the medication.
Take Nicotinic acid with a full glass of cold or cool water. Taking the medication with a hot drink may increase your risk of side effects such as flushing. Do not crush, chew, break, or open an extended-release Nicotinic acid tablet. Swallow it whole. Breaking or opening the tablet may cause too much of the drug to be released at one time. Extended-release tablets contain higher strengths of niacin than the regular tablets.
Nicotinic acid can cause you to have unusual results with certain medical tests (urine tests). Tell any doctor who treats you that you are using this medicine.
If you stop taking Nicotinic acid for any length of time, talk with your doctor before starting the medication again. You may need to restart the medication at a lower dose.
While using Nicotinic acid, you may need blood tests at your doctor's office. Your kidney or liver function may also need to be checked. Visit your doctor regularly.
Nicotinic acid is only part of a complete program of treatment that may also include diet, exercise, weight control, and other medications. Follow your diet, medication, and exercise routines very closely.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take the medicine at your next regularly scheduled time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Tell your doctor about all other cholesterol-lowering drugs you are taking with Nicotinic acid, especially atorvastatin (Lipitor, Caduet), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev, Advicor), pravastatin (Pravachol), or simvastatin (Zocor, Simcor, Vytorin, Juvisync).
Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use Nicotinic acid if you are also using any of the following drugs:
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Nicotinic acid. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
Avoid drinking hot beverages shortly after taking Nicotinic acid. Hot drinks can worsen the flushing effect (warmth, itching, redness, or tingly feeling under your skin).
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Nicotinic acid. Alcohol may increase your risk of liver damage, and can also worsen the flushing effects of this medicine.
Avoid taking colestipol (Colestid) or cholestyramine (Locholest, Prevalite, Questran) at the same time you take Nicotinic acid. If you take either of these other medications, take them at least 4 to 6 hours before or after you take Nicotinic acid.
Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Nicotinic acid: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
Less serious Nicotinic acid side effects include:
Store the medicine at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.