Take labetalol tablets twice daily, with something to eat.
Treatment with labetalol tablets is often long-term. Continue to take your doses regularly unless your doctor tells you to stop.
|Type of medicine||A beta-adrenoceptor blocking drug (often referred to as a beta-blocker)|
|Used for||High blood pressure|
|Available as||Tablets and injection|
Labetalol is a medicine which works on your heart and blood vessels. It does this by blocking tiny areas (called receptors) where messages are received by your heart and blood vessels. As a result, the pressure of blood within your blood vessels is reduced, and your heart beats more slowly and with less force. When it is given by injection, it reduces blood pressure quickly, and for this reason it is used to keep blood pressure down during surgery, and in people who have had a heart attack.
Tablets of labetalol are prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). Most people with high blood pressure do not feel unwell, but it is important that your high blood pressure is treated even if you feel fine. This is because high blood pressure can be damaging to your blood vessels and can put a strain on your heart. In particular, labetalol is one of the medicines of choice for treating high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Before taking labetalol
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking labetalol it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have asthma or any other breathing disorder.
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
- If you have poor circulation.
- If you have sugar diabetes (diabetes mellitus).
- If you have a skin problem called psoriasis.
- If you have a condition causing muscle weakness, called myasthenia gravis.
- If you have been told you have a slow heartbeat, heart failure, or heart block (a slow and irregular heartbeat).
- If you have been told you have chest pain caused by spasms of your heart's blood vessels, called Prinzmetal's angina.
- 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.
How to take labetalol
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about labetalol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take labetalol exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usual to take two doses a day. The directions will be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you about what the doctor said to you.
- Swallow the tablet with a drink of water. Take labetalol at a mealtime, or with something to eat.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case leave out the missed dose). Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
- Treatment with labetalol is often long-term. Continue to take the tablets 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 particularly important if you are likely to be given an anaesthetic.
- Drinking alcohol while you are on labetalol is not recommended. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure-lowering effect of labetalol which will increase the chances of you experiencing side-effects such as feeling sleepy and dizzy.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with labetalol. Some medicines may not be (including some anti-inflammatory painkillers, and cold or flu remedies).
- 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.
- If you have diabetes, labetalol can block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will advise you about this.
Can labetalol cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with labetalol. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. 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.
|Labetalol side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy, sleepy, tired or light-headed||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines while affected|
|Feeling or being sick, stomach ache||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy foods|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Cold fingers or toes, disturbed sleep, slow heartbeat, blocked nose, swollen ankles, tingling feelings, feeling depressed, difficulties passing urine, and difficulties getting an erection||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: labetalol can occasionally cause liver problems. If you notice any yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice), let your doctor know about this straightaway.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store labetalol
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
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
- British National Formulary; 70th Edition (Sep 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
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.
Dr Adrian Bonsall