Acebutolol - a beta-blocker (Sectral)

574 Users are discussing this topic

Acebutolol is prescribed to treat a number of conditions. If you are unsure why you are taking it, speak with your doctor.

Treatment with acebutolol is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets/capsules regularly - do not stop without speaking with your doctor first, as this can cause problems.

The most commonly experienced side-effects are tiredness and stomach upset.

Type of medicineA beta-adrenoceptor blocking medicine (often referred to as a beta-blocker)
Used forHigh blood pressure; angina; irregular heartbeats
Also calledSectral®
Available asTablets and capsules

Acebutolol belongs to the group of medicines known as beta-blockers. It works on the heart and blood vessels.

Acebutolol slows down the activity of your heart by stopping messages sent by some nerves to your heart. It does this by blocking tiny areas (called beta-adrenergic receptors) where the messages are received by your heart. As a result, your heart beats more slowly and with less force. This allows the pressure of blood within your blood vessels to be reduced if you have high blood pressure (hypertension), and helps to prevent abnormally fast and uneven heartbeats if you have a heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia). Because your heart is using less energy, it helps to reduce chest pain if you have angina.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking acebutolol it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
  • If you have asthma or any other breathing disorder.
  • If you have diabetes.
  • If you have been told you have a slow heartbeat or a slow and irregular heartbeat (heart block).
  • If you have been told you have chest pain caused by spasms of your heart's blood vessels, a condition called Prinzmetal's angina.
  • If you have low blood pressure, heart failure, or poor circulation.
  • If you have a skin problem called psoriasis.
  • If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
  • If you have a tumour on your adrenal gland, called phaeochromocytoma.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever had any other serious allergic reaction.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about acebutolol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Your doctor will tell you what dose is right for you, and this information will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you. Take acebutolol exactly as your doctor tells you to. You may be asked to take a dose once, twice or three times a day.
  • Swallow the tablet/capsule with a drink of water. Acebutolol will work the same whether you take your doses before or after food; however, taking your doses after a meal will help to reduce the risk of stomach upset. Try to take your doses of acebutolol at the same times each day. This will help you to remember to take them regularly.
  • Acebutolol is available in several different strengths. When starting your treatment your doctor may give you a small dose at first and then gradually increase it. Each time you collect a fresh supply, it's a good idea to check the strength on the packet to make sure they are what you are expecting.
  • If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If when you remember, it is nearly time for your next dose then take your next dose when it is due but leave out the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Treatment with acebutolol can often be long-term. Continue to take the tablets/capsules unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems in some people, so your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary.
  • If you are due to have an operation or dental treatment, it is important to tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking a beta-blocker. This is because some anaesthetics may increase the risk of unwanted effects.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure-lowering effect of acebutolol and so may not be advisable for you.
  • If you have diabetes, acebutolol can block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will advise you about this.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take. Some medicines (including some painkillers, cold and flu remedies) may not be.
  • Your doctor may give you dietary and lifestyle advice about eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise. If so, it is important that you follow the advice you are given.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with acebutolol. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your tablets/capsules. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common acebutolol side-effects (these affect around 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling tired or dizzy, blurred visionDo not drive or use tools or machines until you feel more awake or able to see clearly
Feeling or being sick, diarrhoeaStick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy foods. If you are not already doing so, try taking your doses after meals
HeadacheAsk your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Cold hands or feet, feeling short of breath, disturbed sleep, mood changes, nightmares, skin rashIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor
Changes to your immune systemLet your doctor know if you feel unwell or experience any unusual aches or pains

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to acebutolol, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
3452 (v24)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

Did you find this health information useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback!

Subcribe to the Patient newsletter for healthcare and news updates.

We would love to hear your feedback!

Patient Access app - find out more Patient facebook page - Like our page