Nicotinic Acid (also known as vitamin B3 or Niacin) helps lower your cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) levels.
Excessive cholesterol and triglycerides in your body can clog up your blood vessels. This can lead to many health problems such as stroke and heart diseases, including heart attack.
Nicotinic Acid is meant to be taken as part of a complete cholesterol management programme that should include exercise, a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Take Nicotinic Acid exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
Take Nicotinic Acid together with food or immediately after a meal. Try to take it at the same time each day.
If you have been given the extended-release tablet, swallow it whole at bedtime after taking a low fat snack. Do not break, chew or crush the tablet. Do not switch between the normal tablet and extended-release tablet unless your doctor has told you to do so.
Nicotinic Acid must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking Nicotinic Acid even if you feel well. Do not stop taking Nicotinic Acid unless instructed by your doctor.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- liver disease
- stomach ulcers
- bleeding problems
as Nicotinic Acid may not be suitable for you.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- kidney disease
- gall bladder disease
Notify your doctor if you consume large amounts of alcohol or if you are a frequent drinker.
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Alert your doctor immediately if you experience muscle pain, weakness or tenderness especially if it is accompanied by fever or general body discomfort.
For as long as you are taking Nicotinic Acid, you will need to have regular blood tests to monitor your body's response to the medicine. Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these blood tests.
Flushing (redness and warmth, itch or tingling sensation of the face and neck) usually occurs when you first take Nicotinic Acid or when the dose is increased. This is normal and should disappear gradually as you get used to the medicine. If the flushing becomes worse, discuss this with your doctor. He may be able to give you some medicine to help minimise the problem.
You may also experience dizziness when getting up from a sitting or lying down position, especially if you are taking Nicotinic Acid for the first time. This is normal and should disappear gradually as you get used to the medicine. It will help if you get up slowly. If you feel dizzy, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert.
Other common side effects of Nicotinic Acid include any of the following: stomach pain, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, wind and rash.
Some side effects may be serious, although they are not common. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience:
- persistent muscle pain, muscle cramps, numbness or weakness
- yellowing of the skin or the eyes
- brown or dark-coloured urine
- unusual tiredness
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- warfarin (blood-thinning medicine)
- other cholesterol-lowering medicines e.g. lovastatin, simvastatin
- medicines that can lower blood pressure e.g. propranolol, terazosin
- medicines for diabetes e.g. glipizide, insulin
- vitamins or supplements that contain Nicotinic Acid
- a herbal or food supplement called red yeast rice
Nicotinic Acid should not be taken at the same time as cholestyramine. Cholestyramine reduces the effectiveness of Nicotinic Acid. If you are taking cholestyramine, take Nicotinic Acid at least 4 to 6 hours after you have taken cholestyramine.
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Nicotinic Acid.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicine, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Do not take hot drinks and spicy food around the time of taking Nicotinic Acid. This will help minimise flushing.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.