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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Pharmacology of Antihyperlipidemic Medications for Laboratory Professionals. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Nicotinic Acid (Niacin)

Drug example: Niacin

Mechanism of action: Niacin reduces VLDL and LDL production in the liver. It also decreases enzymatic breakdown of fat in fat tissues, causing a decrease in plasma triglyceride levels. It also decreases the breakdown of HDL, leading to increased serum HDL levels.

Use: A popular over-the-counter medication used to lower LDL and triglycerides while increasing HDL.

Drug toxicity: Niacin is believed to cause a release of inflammatory mediators, leading to the most common side effect of flushing. Taking aspirin before niacin can reduce the flushing. It is also possible to see elevations in liver enzymes, serum glucose, and serum uric acid in patients using niacin.