HDL-good cholesterol less protective in diabetics; Niacin Time Release restores its benefits

December 23, 2009

     Diabetes may lower the heart-protective benefits of the good and protective cholesterol, but giving diabetics’ niacin, a B-complex vitamin that raises HDL levels when used in high doses restores the benefits of HDL. HDL lowers heart risks because it clears "bad" LDL cholesterol away from arteries and back to the liver, where it is passed out of the body. Several recent studies also indicate that HDL protects arteries by promoting the healing and repair of the cells lining artery walls.
     In people with diabetes HDL may be less protective according to researchers at the University Hospital Zurich and the Medical School of Hanover in Germany. The team compared the vessel-protecting action of HDL samples from 10 healthy adults to samples of 33 patients who had type 2 diabetes along with the rest of the conditions that make metabolic syndrome. All of the people with diabetes were taking statin drugs called to lower their bad cholesterol. In the lab, the team found that the protective benefits on blood vessels were "substantially impaired" in HDL taken from the diabetic patients compared with that taken from healthy people.
     Next, they divided up the diabetics and gave half a placebo (sham Niacin) and treated half with time-release niacin because it dependably raises HDL levels in the blood.
After three months, patients supplemented with niacin had increased HDL levels, and markedly improved protective functions of HDL in laboratory testing as well as improved vascular function (their blood vessels worked better). The study is published online ahead of print in the journal Circulation; a journal of the American Heart Association.