Researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan have determined that niacin or vitamin B3 after a stroke may help to improve neurological function.


Animals with a stroke were given niacin, their brains experienced the growth of new nerve cells and blood vessels, which improved their brain function.


The researchers are now planning to investigate the effects of niacin in an extended release form on stroke patients.  This is the first study of its kind in the US.


“If this proves to also work well in our human trials, we’ll then have the benefit of a low-cost, easily tolerable treatment of one of the most neurologically devastating conditions,” according to Michael Chopp, Ph.D, Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute’s scientific Director.


Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the US and a leading cause of disability. Ischemic strokes are the result of a blockage occurring within an artery in the brain, and accounts for approximately 87 per cent of all cases.  Fatty cholesterol deposits in the artery’s wall are believed to contribute to this condition.  And niacin is the most effective treatment currently available to elevate the HDL-C (high density lipoprotein cholesterol) which helps to remove these fatty deposits.


Previous researchers at Henry Ford Hospital determined that HDL-C is very low at the time of admission to the hospital.


This study also determined that niacin elevates the HDL-C, which causes the positive changes.


Dr. Russman also noted, “If we are able to prove that treating patients with niacin helps to restore neurological function after stroke, we’re opening a whole new avenue of treatment for the leading cause of serious long time disability in adults.”