Sotalol belongs to the group of medicines known as beta-blockers. It is prescribed to treat an irregular heartbeat.
Treatment is usually long-term. Continue to take the tablets regularly.The most common side-effects are feeling tired, unwanted heartbeat changes, and feeling short of breath.
|Type of medicine||Beta-adrenoceptor blocker (often referred to as a beta-blocker)|
|Used for||Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats)|
|Also called||Beta-Cardone®; Sotacor®|
Your heartbeat is regulated by special tissues within your heart which conduct electric impulses. Irregular heartbeats can be caused by these tissues conducting impulses too quickly or too erratically.
Sotalol slows down the activity of your heart by stopping the messages sent by some nerves to your heart. It does this by blocking tiny areas (called beta-adrenergic receptors) where the messages are received. As a result your heart beats more slowly, and this helps to prevent abnormally fast heart rhythms, called arrhythmias.
Before taking sotalol
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 sotalol it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby, or breast-feeding.
- If you have diarrhoea.
- If you have any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.
- If you have asthma or any other breathing difficulties.
- If you have sugar diabetes.
- If you have thyroid problems.
- If you have a skin condition called psoriasis.
- If you have a condition causing muscle weakness called myasthenia gravis.
- If you have been told you have a heart failure, heart block, sick sinus syndrome, or any other heart condition.
- If you have been told you have Prinzmetal's angina (chest pain caused by spasms of the blood vessels in your heart).
- 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 kind of severe allergic reaction.
How to take sotalol
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about sotalol and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take sotalol exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usual to take two doses each day, morning and evening. You may be started on a low-strength tablet to begin with, and then the strength of your tablets may be increased gradually until you are on a dose which best suits your condition. Your dose will be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you what to do.
- Try to take sotalol at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take your tablets regularly. It is not important whether you take sotalol before or after food.
- Sotalol tablets are available in several different strengths. Each time you collect a fresh supply of tablets, it's a good idea to check the strength on the packet to make sure they are the strength you are expecting.
- If you forget to take a tablet, take it as soon as you remember unless your next dose is due. If your next dose is due, then take the tablet which is due but leave out the forgotten one. Do not take two doses together to make up for missing one.
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. Your doctor will want to check your heartbeat regularly.
- Treatment with sotalol is usually long-term so continue to take these tablets unless your doctor tells you to stop. Stopping treatment suddenly can cause problems in some people, so your doctor will probably want you to reduce your dose gradually if this becomes necessary.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about drinking while you are on sotalol. It may not be recommended for you.
- If you have diabetes, sotalol may block the symptoms of low blood sugar. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
- If you are having 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 buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take. Some medicines, such as some antihistamines, 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.
Can sotalol 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 most common ones associated with sotalol. 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 sotalol side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, indigestion, wind||Stick to simple foods|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller. If the headache continues, speak with your doctor|
|Feeling dizzy, sleepy, weak, or light-headed||Moving more slowly may help. If you begin to feel dizzy, lie down so that you do not faint, then sit for a few moments before standing. This often improves after the first week or two, but if it continues, speak with your doctor|
|Other side-effects include: slow heartbeat and other heart rhythm problems, feeling short of breath, chest pain, rash, muscle cramps, difficulties sleeping, changes in mood, sexual problems, fever, an altered sense of taste, and disturbances to hearing or vision||Speak with your doctor if any of these become troublesome|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store sotalol
- 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 at once. 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, Sotalol Hydrochloride 80 mg and 160 mg Tablets; Accord Healthcare Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2012.
- British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) 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.
Prof Cathy Jackson