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Vasodilators form a very heterogeneous class of medicinal products. The Vidal® drug compendium only considers as vasodilators medicinal products used for the treatment of intermittent claudication and for the intravenous treatment of severe ischemic manifestations.
However, vasodilators are often given together with other treatments that are usually used in cardiology but that have an effect on microcirculation. They have been fully validated for use for the treatment of vasospasm of digital arteries and trophic disorders and include calcium channel blockers, alpha-blockers, nitric oxide derivatives, ketanserin, angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers. More recently, a new therapeutic class consisting of endothelin-1 receptor antagonists has been found to be effective for the treatment of microcirculation disorders.
The common feature of all these medicinal products is that they act directly or indirectly on the three components of vascular tone, i.e. the smooth muscle fibres of blood vessel walls, the adrenergic nerve terminals and the endothelium. Some also have an effect on the clustering and deformation of red blood cells, on platelet aggregation and on leukocyte-endothelial cell adhesion.
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