Niaspan is a medicine used alone or in combination with other cholesterol-lowering medicines to lower your cholesterol when a low-fat diet is not enough. Niaspan increases “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your body and lowers the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and fats (triglycerides). Niaspan is also used to lower the risk of heart attack in people who have had a heart attack and have high cholesterol. In addition, Niaspan is used with another cholesterol-lowering medicine called bile acid resins (such as colestipol and cholestyramine) to slow the buildup of fat deposits in the arteries of people with coronary artery disease (narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart) and high cholesterol.
Taking Niaspan is not a substitute for following a healthy low-fat and low-cholesterol diet and exercising to lower your cholesterol.
Flushing is the most common side effect of Niaspan. Symptoms of flushing include warmth, redness, itching, or tingling of your skin. This is more likely to happen when you first start taking Niaspan or when your dose of Niaspan is increased. If you wake up at night because of flushing, get up slowly, especially if you feel dizzy or faint, or if you take blood pressure medicines.
To lower your chance of flushing, take Niaspan with a low-fat snack, do not drink hot beverages (such as coffee), alcohol, or eat spicy food around the time you take Niaspan, and ask your doctor if you can take aspirin before you take Niaspan.
Niaspan can cause muscle pain, tenderness, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, right upper abdominal discomfort, dark urine, light colored stools, itchy skin, nausea, or yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes. Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms. Your risk for these effects may be higher if you take Niaspan with other cholesterol-lowering medicines known as “statins” (such as lovastatin or simvastatin).
Niaspan can increase your blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, monitor your blood sugar regularly, as determined by your doctor.