Cilostazol tablets - Pletal

You have been given cilostazol to increase the distance you can walk.

Take one tablet in the morning and one tablet in the evening.

Take your doses 30 minutes before a meal (or alternatively, wait until two hours afterwards).

Type of medicine Vasodilator (widens blood vessels)
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 lower leg when you walk and is due to poor circulation. Vasodilators like cilostazol increase the distance you can walk before the pain develops.

Cilostazol works 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. Cilostazol is prescribed by specialist doctors when it is not possible to improve the symptoms of intermittent claudication by other means.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking cilostazol it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have a heart condition or high blood pressure.
  • If you have sugar diabetes.
  • If you know you are at risk of bleeding - for example, if you have a stomach ulcer or if you have had surgery recently.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works or the way your kidneys work.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. It will give you more information about cilostazol and will provide you with a full list of side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take the tablets exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usual to take one tablet twice a day, in the morning and evening. The usual strength of tablet is 100 mg, although a lower strength of tablet may be appropriate at times if you are also taking certain other medicines. Your doctor will tell you which is the right strength for you, and this will also be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you.
  • Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. Ideally, you should take the tablets 30 minutes before meals. If this is not possible, wait until two hours afterwards.
  • If you forget to take a dose, don't worry, just remember to take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress and assess how cilostazol is working for you.
  • If you are a smoker, you should try to stop. 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 your 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 will advise you on what type of exercise is suitable for you.
  • Try to 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.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with cilostazol. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common cilostazol side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people) 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 cilostazol side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people) What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling dizzy or tired Do not drive or use tools or machines
Feeling or being sick, indigestion, abdominal pain, wind Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods
Lack of appetite, fast heartbeat, chest pain, runny nose, swollen ankles or feet, itchy skin rash If you are concerned about any of these, speak with your doctor

Important: cilostazol has been associated with blood disorders in a few people. If you experience any bruising or bleeding, or if you develop a sore throat or a high temperature, you should let your doctor know straightaway so that your blood can be checked.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, 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.

If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. 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.

Do not 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

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Pletal® 50 mg and 100 mg tablets; Otsuka Pharmaceuticals (UK) Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2013.
  • British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

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:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
1407 (v23)
Last Checked:
13/05/2014
Next Review:
12/05/2017
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