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What Is Cilostazol?

By L. Whitaker
Updated May 17, 2024
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Cilostazol, also known by the brand name Pletal® in the U.S., is a medication available by prescription as a means of treating symptoms of intermittent claudication, or leg pain related to certain types of poor circulation. This drug is believed to improve cardiovascular circulation by dilation of arteries in the legs as well as by preventing blood from clotting. Cilostazol is contraindicated for use by individuals with congestive heart failure, due to the potential for fatal side effects related to this condition.

Certain pre-existing conditions could complicate the use of cilostazol. Individuals should alert their doctors to any personal history of hemophilia, bleeding ulcers, or other types of active bleeding. Allergies to any medications, preservatives, dyes, or foods should also be reported. Cilostazol is not intended for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to possible dangers to the fetus or infant. Elderly patients could be more sensitive to the effects of this medication, and it is typically not recommended for pediatric use.

The most common side effect of cilostazol use is headache. Effects that are sometimes experienced by individuals taking this medication also include dizziness, fast heartbeat, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal effects, joint pain, and tingling or numbness. Serious side effects requiring emergency medical attention could include a headache that is severe, painful or bloody urination, chills, fever, or other flu-like symptoms, ankle or foot swelling, chest pain, or shortness of breath.

Physicians should monitor patients closely if prescribing cilostazol along with certain other medications. These drugs can include omeprazole, diltiazem, ketoconazole, some antibiotics such as erythromycin and clarithromycin, and some antidepressants such as fluoxetine. Aspirin and warfarin are also known to have negative interactions with cilostazol.

This medication comes in the form of 50 mg and 100 mg tablets. Cilostazol should be taken with water twice a day, about 30 minutes before eating or hours hours after a meal. Individuals who typically consume grapefruits or grapefruit juice should consult their physicians about a possible serious interaction with this medication.

Intermittent claudication is a medical condition in which the patient experiences leg pain when walking, especially if walking for a long distance. Typically, this pain recedes when the legs are inactive. In individuals with intermittent claudication who are not helped by medication or a specific exercise program, surgery is sometimes prescribed as a secondary treatment.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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