Medicines to Treat Intermittent Claudication


The term “Claudicatio intermittens” refers to a complex pseudo-pathological condition - also known as “intermittent lameness” - characterized by cramp-like pain in the leg associated with walking difficulties and weakness. Intermittent claudication tends to recur after a subsequent effort, or as a result of prolonged use of the limb.


Intermittent claudication is the result of a peripheral vasculopathy: atherosclerosis causes a marked reduction in blood flow to the leg muscles, consequently the affected patient presents cramp-like pains which, degenerating, prevent correct walking.


Claudicatio intermittens generally begins following an effort, with pains of varying degrees in the calf, flank or buttock; these cramps become more and more intense, to the point of heavily compromising correct walking. Intermittent claudication may be accompanied by other symptoms: thinning of the skin, cyanosis, cold extremities, tingling, paleness, loss of hair, feeling cold, dizziness. In the most severe cases, intermittent claudication generates skin ulcerations.

Information on Intermittent Claudication - Medicines for the Treatment of Intermittent Claudication is not intended to replace the direct relationship between health professional and patient. Always consult your doctor and / or specialist before taking Claudication intermittens - Medicines for the Treatment of Claudication intermittens.


Claudicatio intermittens is not a disease in all respects, since it is a consequence of an atherosclerotic plaque positioned in an "artery of the leg; according to this, it is well understood how the treatment of the disease in progress produces, consequently, the healing even of secondary symptoms.
Furthermore, since rest improves symptoms, it is recommended to avoid excessive effort and to use the limb for too long periods, to prevent the pain from returning.
A certain correlation has been observed between the onset of claudication intermittens and smoking, obesity, diabetes and hyperlipidemia; clearly, the correction of these disorders constitutes a very useful rule to avoid the onset of claudicatio intermittens and atherosclerosis.

The following are the classes of drugs most used in the therapy against intermittent claudication, and some examples of pharmacological specialties; it is up to the doctor to choose the most suitable active ingredient and dosage for the patient, based on the severity of the disease, the state of health of the patient and his response to treatment:

  • Cilostazol (eg. Pletal): it is a cardiovascular agent, inhibitor of platelet aggregation, with a peripheral vasodilating action. The drug is useful for preventing intermittent claudication, as well as producing positive effects on cholesterol levels; it is the active ingredient of "election used for the treatment of symptoms associated with atherosclerosis. Indicatively, it is recommended to take the drug at a dosage of 100 mg, orally, twice a day, to be administered at least half an hour before breakfast; alternatively, it is possible to take the drug 2 hours after breakfast or dinner.
  • Pentoxifylline (eg. Trental): it is a peripheral vasodilator, used in therapy for the treatment of numerous vascular diseases, especially related to atherosclerosis and diabetes, including claudicatio intermittens. The dosage of this active ingredient is the following: 400 mg of drug to be taken orally, three times a day, or 600 mg twice a day. If side effects occur, the dose can be reduced to 400 mg, twice a day; it is recommended to take this drug for the treatment of intermittent claudication after meals, preferably at approximately the same time, in order to obtain a constant and prolonged therapeutic effect over time.
  • Acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirinetta, Cardioaspirin): the drug reduces platelet aggregation by lowering the coagulation capacity of the blood; the effect is particularly important to prevent thrombotic events associated with atherosclerosis. The most used dosage is 100 mg per day, to be taken as a single dose orally, with plenty of water, after meals.
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix, Zyllt, Zylagren, Zopya, Iscover, Grepid, Clopidogrel Winthrop, Clopidogrel Acino): similarly to what has been seen for acetylsalicylic acid, the antiplatelet activity of clopidogrel is useful to prevent the formation of thrombus (blood clots ) in the arteries of the patient suffering from atherosclerosis and intermittent claudication. The recommended dosage is to take one tablet (75 mg) once a day.

Intermittent claudication and phytotherapy

Some staves can be a valid aid to alleviate the painful symptoms that accompany claudicatio intermittens: garlic and ginkgo biloba are the most valid herbal references, thanks to their anti-hypertensive, hypotiglyceridemic, hypocholesterolemic and vasodilator properties.
Although they are "natural", it is strongly not recommended to administer these extracts without consulting a specialist.

In the most serious cases, when it is not possible to obtain evident beneficial effects from drugs, the symptoms that accompany intermittent claudication can be reduced or removed only by means of angioplasty or insertion of a surgical by-pass.

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