The burden of atherosclerosis is particularly high in western countries in terms of mortality and disability. The cerebral arteries (stroke or transient ischemic attack [TIA]), coronary arteries (myocardial infarction [MI]) and peripheral arteries (intermittent claudication [IC], ischemic limb) can be affected. Atherosclerosis may involve different mechanisms such as inflammation, platelet activation, endothelial damage, balance between proliferation and apoptosis of smooth muscle cells and oxidative stress. Research is focused to counteract each of these aspects. Many antithrombotic drugs are currently available and most of them act as inhibitors of platelet function. Aspirin, ticlopidine, clopidogrel and the combination of aspirin plus dipyridamole are widely used for primary (in high-risk patients) and secondary prevention of atherosclerotic diseases. Research of new pharmacological strategies is driven by the need to reduce the risk of bleeding associated with the use of antiplatelet drugs. In this context cilostazol, a type III phosphodiesterase inhibitor, has demonstrated antiplatelet and vasodilator effects with low rate of bleeding complications. This review will focus on the pharmacological properties of cilostazol and its use in the management of atherothrombotic vascular diseases.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis, antiplatelet agents, phosphodiesterase inhibitor, cilostazol, vascular prevention
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