Labetalol

Sounds like 'luh-BET-uh-lol'

Labetalol is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension) especially high blood pressure in pregnancy. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Labetalol is also called Trandate.

What is labetalol?

Labetalol is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). In particular, labetalol is one of the preferred medicines to treat high blood pressure in pregnancy. It belongs to a group of medicines called beta blockers.  

Dose

In Aotearoa New Zealand labetalol is available as tablets (100mg and 200mg) or as an injection, which is used in the hospital.

  • The usual dose of labetalol tablets is 100 to 200 milligrams twice a day.
  • Your doctor will start you on a lower dose and increase your dose if needed, up to a maximum of 2400mg daily. 
  • Always take your labetalol exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much labetalol to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

How to take labetalol

  • Timing: Swallow your labetalol tablets with a glass of water. Labetalol is best taken with food. Take your labetalol doses at the same times each day.
  • Missed dose: If you forget your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Don't take double the dose.
  • Keep taking labetalol regularly. Don't stop taking labetalol suddenly; talk to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Things to consider while you are taking labetalol

  • Avoid alcohol while you are taking labetalol, especially when you first start treatment. Alcohol can increase your risk of some side effects, eg, dizziness.
  • Labetalol can interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about all medicines you are taking including over the counter medicines, herbal and complementary medicines or recreational drugs.

If you have diabetes

  • If you have diabetes, labetalol may cause changes in your blood glucose level. This effect usually settles with time.
  • Beta blockers may reduce the warning signs of a low blood sugar level (hypoglycaemia – often called a hypo). For example, you may not have the feeling of fast, irregular or strong heartbeats (palpitations) or tremor, which can occur when your blood glucose is going too low.
  • If you're worried about this, talk to your doctor. Don't stop taking your beta blocker without checking with your doctor first. Read more about hypoglycaemia.

If you have asthma

  • If you have asthmataking a beta blocker may trigger your asthma symptoms or make them worse. However, not everybody with asthma is sensitive to these medicines.
  • If you're worried about this, talk to your doctor. They may be able to prescribe a different medicine or increase the dose of your asthma preventer medication.
  • Don't suddenly stop taking your beta blocker without talking to your doctor first. This can be dangerous and make you feel unwell. Read more about medicines that may trigger asthma symptoms.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, labetalol can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Problems falling asleep or nightmares
  • These are quite common when you first start taking labetalol and usually goes away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if these side effects bother you.
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling faint when you stand up
  • This is common when you first start taking labetalol.
  • Don't drink alcohol.
  • Be careful when getting up from either lying down or sitting to avoid falls.
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Tell your doctor if they bother you.
  • Low mood
  • Tell your doctor.
  • Signs of problems with your liver such as yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark urine, pain in the tummy (abdomen)
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Problems with breathing such as chest tightness, or wheezing or swelling of the ankles or feet.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring Healthline 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a side effect from a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

Labetalol New Zealand Formulary Patient Information

References

Labetalol New Zealand Formulary

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 21 Dec 2022