Acebutolol - a beta blocker

  • The most common side-effects of acebutolol are tiredness and stomach upset.
  • Treatment with acebutolol is usually long-term. Do not stop taking it without speaking to your doctor first as this can cause problems.

About acebutolol

Type of medicine A beta-adrenoceptor blocking drug (often referred to as a beta-blocker)
Used for High blood pressure
Abnormally fast heartbeats
Also called Sectral®
Available as Tablets and capsules

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 and helps to prevent abnormally fast heart rhythms. Because your heart is using less energy, this also helps to reduce angina pain.

Before taking acebutolol

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 or pharmacist knows:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
  • If you have kidney problems.
  • If you have low blood pressure or poor circulation.
  • If you have asthma or breathing difficulties.
  • If you have diabetes.
  • If you have psoriasis (a skin problem).
  • If you have myasthenia gravis (a condition causing muscle weakness).
  • 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 Prinzmetal's angina (chest pain caused by spasms of the heart's blood vessels).
  • If you have phaeochromocytoma (a tumour on your adrenal gland).
  • If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine, or if you have ever had any other severe allergic reaction.

How to take acebutolol

  • Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of acebutolol you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
  • Take acebutolol exactly as your doctor has told you. Your doctor or pharmacist will tell you how much to take and when to take it. Your dose will also be on the label of your pack. (You may be asked to take acebutolol once, twice or three times a day depending on the reason why you are taking it).
  • Try to take your doses of acebutolol at the same times each day. This will help you to remember to take them.
  • You can take acebutolol before or after meals.
  • 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.
  • It is very important you follow any dietary and lifestyle advice that you may have been given by your doctor, such as eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise.
  • If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about taking acebutolol and alcohol. Alcohol will add to the blood pressure lowering effect of acebutolol and so may not be recommended for you.
  • If you have diabetes you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently as acebutolol may affect the levels of sugar in your blood. It also 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, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking acebutolol.
  • Treatment with acebutolol 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 is necessary.
  • If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with acebutolol. This is because some medicines (including some anti-inflammatory painkillers) may affect the way acebutolol works.

Can acebutolol cause problems?

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.

Common acebutolol side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who take this medicine What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling tired, dizzy, or problems seeing clearly If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines until you feel more awake or able to see clearly
Feeling or being sick, diarrhoea Stick to simple meals - avoid rich and spicy foods. If you are not already doing so, try taking your doses after meals
Feeling short of breath If this happens, speak with your doctor as soon as possible
Headache Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
Cold extremities (fingers, toes and nose), feeling depressed, nightmares, skin rash If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor
Changes to your immune system Let 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 this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

How to store acebutolol

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