Researchers noticed no overall effect on plaque buildup in study participants who took Zetia in combination with a statin instead of niacin
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On Monday, November 16, 2009, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that using niacin in combination with a statin drug can reduce hardening of the arteries, which can lead to heart attack or stroke. The other half of study participants were assigned ezetimbe – commonly known as Zetia – in combination with a statin instead of niacin, and researchers noticed no overall effect on plaque buildup in these people.
Dr. Michael Miller, director of UMMC's Center for Preventive Cardiology and professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was a researcher in this study. Researchers felt the study results were so conclusive that the study was ended early because the results were so conclusive.
The early ending of the study has been criticized by some, including executives from Merck, the maker of Zetia, and some cardiologists, who argue that the results from about 40 percent of study participants aren’t included in the data presented.
Dr. Miller says the impact of this study will be significant. "It will have a great impact for the use of niacin-based therapy," Dr. Miller said. "We sill await the results of the NIH-sponsored AIM-HIGH clinical trial testing whether combining niacin and statin reduces heart attacks to a greater extent than statin alone. In other words, statins and niacin may turn out to be the Ruth/Gehrig power combination needed to effectively treat cholesterol and combat heart disease."