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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2001 Nov;2(11):1725-36.

Pharmacotherapy of intermittent claudication.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072, Australia.


Intermittent claudication (IC) is leg muscle pain, cramping and fatigue brought on by exercise and is the primary symptom of peripheral arterial disease. The goals of pharmacotherapy for IC are to increase the walking capacity/quality of life and to decrease rates of amputation. In 1988, pentoxifylline was the only drug that had reasonable supportive clinical trial evidence for being beneficial in IC. Since then a number of drugs have shown benefit or potential in IC. Cilostazol, a specific inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 3 and activator of lipoprotein lipase, clearly increases pain-free and absolute walking distances in claudicants. However, cilostazol does cause minor side effects including headache, diarrhoea, loose stools and flatulence. Naftidrofuryl, a serotonin (5-HT2) receptor antagonist and antiplatelet drug, is beneficial in claudicants. Inhibitors of platelet aggregation (including nitric oxide from L -arginine or glyceryl trinitrate) and anticoagulants (low molecular weight heparin, defibrotide) probably have both short and long-term benefits in IC. In addition, intravenous infusions of prostaglandins (PGs) PGE1 and PGI2 have an established role in severe peripheral arterial disease and the recent introduction of longer lasting and/or oral forms of the PGs makes them more likely to be useful in the IC associated with less severe forms of the disease. There are some exciting new approaches to the treatment of IC, including propionyl-L-carnitine and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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