Pentoxifylline

Search Knowledgebase

Pentoxifylline

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
pentoxifyllineTrental

How It Works

Pentoxifylline increases the amount of oxygen that reaches your tissues by increasing the flexibility of your red blood cells. When blood cells are more flexible, they can travel more easily through narrowed blood vessels to deliver oxygen to muscle, bone, skin, and nerve tissues.

Why It Is Used

Pentoxifylline may be used to treat intermittent claudication or other more advanced symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Pentoxifylline should not be used in people who have recently had bleeding (hemorrhage) in the back lining of the eye (retina) or the brain. It also should not be used by people who cannot tolerate caffeine.

How Well It Works

Pentoxifylline may help people with intermittent claudication increase the distance they can walk before pain starts. It also may help reduce pain and promote wound healing in people with severe PAD. The beneficial effects of pentoxifylline can occur as early as 2 to 4 weeks after starting the medicine.

But pentoxifylline does not help everyone. The drug also has side effects. And some doctors may feel these side effects outweigh the benefits of taking the drug.

Side Effects

Side effects of pentoxifylline include:

  • Chest pain.
  • Upset stomach, nausea, and/or vomiting.
  • Belching, passing gas, or bloating.
  • Dizziness or headache.
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension).

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

In Canada, pentoxifylline is only used in patients who have advanced PAD and who have not responded to other treatment. Provincial health plans may restrict coverage for the cost of the drug.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers should only take this medicine if absolutely necessary, because it has yet to be proved safe for their children.

People who are taking high blood pressure medicine should watch their blood pressure carefully while taking pentoxifylline. It may cause a further decrease in blood pressure.

People who have impaired kidneys may need to take smaller doses of pentoxifylline, because it takes longer for the kidneys to eliminate it from their system.

Pentoxifylline should not be used in people who have recently had bleeding (hemorrhage) in the back lining of the eye (retina) or the brain. It also should not be used by people who cannot tolerate caffeine.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David A. Szalay, MD - Vascular Surgery
Last Revised January 26, 2010

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.