• Cilostazol is used to increase the distance you can walk.
  • It works by widening blood vessels to improve the flow of blood in your legs.
  • Take your doses 30 minutes before a meal or two hours afterwards.
Type of medicine Peripheral vasodilator
Used for Intermittent claudication
Also called Pletal®
Available as Tablets

Cilostazol is used to treat intermittent claudication. This is a cramping pain that develops in the legs when you walk and is due to poor circulation. Vasodilators like cilostazol increase the distance you can walk before pain develops.

Cilostazol relieves the symptoms of intermittent claudication in two ways. It increases blood flow by widening the blood vessels of the affected areas and it also reduces the clotting activity of blood cells called platelets.

Before taking cilostazol make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver or kidney problems.
  • If you have high blood pressure.
  • If you have been told you have heart failure or heart rhythm problems.
  • If you have diabetes mellitus.
  • If you have a stomach ulcer.
  • If you have had any surgery in the past three months.
  • If you have had a stroke in the past six months.
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal or complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or any other medicine.
  • Before starting this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
  • Take cilostazol exactly as your doctor has told you. It is usually taken twice a day.
  • Cilostazol should be taken either 30 minutes before or two hours after your breakfast and evening meal.
  • Try to take cilostazol at the same times each day to avoid missing any doses.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking can narrow your blood vessels further and will make your condition worse. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you about how to quit smoking.
  • Keep your home warm. The cold cuts down the blood supply to the skin even before you feel cold. If you go out in the cold, wrap up well in warm clothing, especially gloves and socks.
  • Regular exercise will help to improve your circulation. Your doctor can advise you on the type of exercise suitable for you.
  • Take good care of your hands and feet. Examine your hands, legs and feet regularly for any signs of damage or infection. If you notice any changes, see your doctor.
  • It may take some time for cilostazol to work (up to 12-24 weeks of treatment). However if you feel that this medicine is not working for you, make an appointment to see your doctor.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking cilostazol.
  • Keep your regular appointments with your doctor so your progress can be monitored.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with cilostazol.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Very common side-effects - these affect more than 1 in 10 people taking this medicine What can I do if I experience this
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor
Diarrhoea Drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids
Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people taking this medicine  
Dizziness, weakness If affected, do not drive or operate machinery
Feeling or being sick, indigestion, abdominal pain Eat little and often. Stick to simple or bland foods
Fast heart beat, chest pain, runny nose, bruising, swollen ankles or feet, skin rash and itching If you are concerned about any of these, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

  • Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else has taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
  • This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
  • Never keep out of date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
  • If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
  • Manufacturer's PIL, Pletal® 100 mg tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Pletal® 100 mg tablets, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (UK) Ltd, electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2009.

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Last Checked:
Document ID:
1407 (v22)
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