The progression of atherosclerosis remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality. Plaque formation is an immunological response driven by a number of risk factors, and reduction of risk is the primary goal of treatment. The role of LDL-C is well established and statins have proved effective drugs, although the relative risk reduction is only around 30%. The importance of other factors—notably low HDL-C and high TGs—has become increasingly clear and the search for alternative strategies continues. Niacin is particularly effective in achieving normalization of HDL-C but is clinically underutilized due to the side effect of cutaneous flushing. The discovery that flushing is mediated by mechanisms distinct from the lipid-lowering effects has led to the development of combination drugs with reduced side effects. This review considers the evidence regarding the clinical efficacy of extended-release niacin and the DP1 antagonist laropiprant in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and mixed dyslipidemias.
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