Cilostazol for peripheral arterial disease


Generic Name Brand Name
cilostazol Pletal

How It Works

Researchers do not completely understand how cilostazol relieves intermittent claudication. It may increase blood flow to the legs by inhibiting clotting and by causing the blood vessels to widen.

Why It Is Used

Cilostazol is used to treat intermittent claudication in people who have peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

How Well It Works

Cilostazol may help people who experience pain when walking (intermittent claudication). This medicine may increase the distance that some people can walk before pain begins.1

Side Effects

Side effects of cilostazol include:

  • A headache.
  • A strong and rapid heart rate.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dizziness.
  • An upset stomach and nausea.
  • Increased cough.
  • Abdominal, back, and/or muscle pain.

In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a warning about other side effects. These include chest pain, hot flashes, cerebral hemorrhage, angina pectoris, low blood pressure, abnormal liver function tests, jaundice, vomiting, thrombocytopenia, leukopenia, bleeding tendency, paresthesia, hyperglycemia, pulmonary hemorrhage, interstitial pneumonia, pruritus, skin eruptions (including Stevens-Johnson syndrome), rash, increased BUN, and hematuria.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

If you have heart failure, do not take cilostazol.

Cilostazol should not be taken with food. It should be taken ½ hour before eating or 2 hours after eating.

Do not drink grapefruit juice if you are taking cilostazol. Grapefruit juice may change how cilostazol works in your body.

Pregnant women and women who are breast-feeding should not take this drug unless it is absolutely needed. The effects of this medicine on a fetus or on an infant who is breast-feeding are not yet known.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. Robless P, et al. (2008). Cilostazol for peripheral arterial disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).

Last Updated: October 16, 2009

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