Pindolol - a beta-blocker (Visken)

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Treatment with pindolol is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets regularly unless your doctor tells you to stop.

The most common side-effects are feeling tired or dizzy, sleeping problems, and cold hands and feet.

Type of medicineA beta-adrenoceptor blocking medicine (often referred to as a beta-blocker)
Used forHypertension; angina
Also calledVisken®
Combination brand: Viskaldix® (pindolol with clopamide)
Available asTablets

Pindolol belongs to the group of medicines referred to as beta-blockers. It is a medicine which works on the heart and blood vessels.

Beta-blockers slow down the activity of your heart by stopping messages sent by some nerves to your heart. They do 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 because your heart is using less energy, it helps to reduce chest pain if you have angina.

For the treatment of high blood pressure, pindolol can be prescribed as a treatment on its own, or alongside a 'water' tablet (diuretic). When it is used with a diuretic called clopamide, it can be prescribed as a combination tablet (in a brand called Viskaldix®). Taking this brand helps to cut down on the number of tablets you need to take each day.

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 pindolol 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 kidneys work.
  • If you have low blood pressure or 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.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about pindolol and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Take pindolol exactly as your doctor tells you to - the directions will be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you about what the doctor said. You may be asked to take one, two, or three doses each day. There are two strengths of tablet available: 5 mg and 15 mg. Each time you collect a fresh supply of tablets it is a good idea to check to make sure you receive the strength you are expecting. If you have any questions, please ask your pharmacist to advise you.
  • Your doctor may prescribe you a small dose initially, such as 2.5-5 mg, up to three times a day. As this may mean taking half a tablet, the tablets are scored so that they can be divided into two. If necessary, your doctor will increase your dose slowly over the following few weeks.
  • You can take the tablets either before or after meals, but try to take your doses at the same time of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take pindolol regularly.
  • 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.
  • Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • Treatment with pindolol is usually 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.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking pindolol and alcohol. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure-lowering effect of pindolol which will make you feel dizzy and so may not be recommended for you.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with pindolol. 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, pindolol can block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will advise you about this.

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 pindolol. 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.

Common pindolol side-effects
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling tired or dizzyIf this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines while affected
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
Feeling short of breathIf this happens, speak with your doctor as soon as possible
Cold fingers or toes, tingling feelings, feeling depressed or confused, nightmares or disturbed sleep, reduced desire for sex and difficulties getting an erectionIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, 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

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Visken® tablets; Amdipharm Mercury Company Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2014.
  • 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.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
3458 (v25)
Last Checked:
23/12/2015
Next Review:
22/12/2018
The Information Standard - certified member

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