A long-term study of policosanol in the treatment of intermittent claudication

Angiology. 2001 Feb;52(2):115-25. doi: 10.1177/000331970105200205.


Policosanol is a cholesterol-lowering drug with concomitant antiplatelet effects. This study was undertaken to investigate the long-term effects of policosanol administered to patients with moderately severe intermittent claudication. The study consisted of a 6-week single-blind, placebo-controlled run in phase, followed by a 2-year double-blind, randomized treatment step. Fifty-six patients who met study entry criteria were randomized to receive placebo or policosanol 10 mg twice daily. Walking distances on a treadmill (constant speed 3.2 km/h, slope 10 degrees, temperature 25 degrees C) were assessed before and after 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of treatment. Both groups were similar at randomization. After 6 months of therapy, policosanol significantly increased (p < 0.01) the initial claudication distance from 125.9 +/- 8.7 m to 201.1 +/- 24.8 m and the absolute claudication distance from 219.5 +/- 14.1 m to 380.7 +/- 50.2 m. Both variables remained unchanged in the placebo group (p < 0.01). These effects did not wear off but improved after long-term therapy, so that final values were 333.5 +/- 28.6 m (initial claudication distance) and 648.9 +/- 54.1 m (absolute claudication distance); both significantly greater (p < 0.0001) than those obtained in the placebo group, which showed values of 137.9 +/- 21.8 m (initial claudication distance) and 237.7 +/- 28.1 m (absolute claudication distance), respectively. At study completion, 21 policosanol and 5 placebo patients attained increases in claudication distance values > 50% (p < 0.001). Policosanol, but not placebo, significantly increased the ankle/arm pressure index. In addition, from month 6 up to study completion, the frequency of patients reporting improvement of lower limb symptoms was greater in the policosanol group than in the placebo group. The treatment was tolerated well. There were 16 withdrawals (12 placebo, 4 policosanol) from the study. Eight patients in the placebo group experienced a total of 10 serious adverse events, 8 of which were vascular events, compared with none in the policosanol group (p < 0.01). In addition, 3 patients in the policosanol group and 3 patients in the placebo group reported mild adverse events during the study. The present results demonstrate the long-term usefulness of policosanol therapy to treat patients with intermittent claudication.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatty Alcohols / adverse effects
  • Fatty Alcohols / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Claudication / drug therapy*
  • Intermittent Claudication / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Walking


  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
  • Triglycerides
  • policosanol
  • Cholesterol