Acebutolol is a medication a doctor may prescribe to manage high blood pressure or a cardiac arrhythmia. It is in a class of medications known as beta blockers, after their method of action, and is only available by prescription. This drug can be dangerous in patients who do not need it and can also pose risks if patients stop taking it abruptly. Patients who need to transition off acebutolol require medical supervision to make sure they taper the dosing down slowly and safely.
This medication works by blocking the activity of epinephrine and certain other hormones associated with high stress. For people with some kinds of cardiac arrhythmias, acebutolol can prevent irregular heart beats. In hypertension treatment, the drug keeps the blood vessels open and relaxed so the patient cannot develop a spike in blood pressure. A doctor may prescribe the drug for other uses if it appears to be appropriate for a patient's needs.
While taking acebutolol, patients should not drink alcohol, because a negative interaction can occur. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system and in combination with this drug, it may cause an abnormally low heart rate, drowsiness, and dizziness. Certain other medications can also interact poorly, including drugs to control blood pressure and heart rhythm. Patients transitioning from different medications should discuss the risks and work out an appropriate schedule for changing their medication regimens.
Some acebutolol side effects can include fatigue, nervousness, a slowing of the heart rate, nausea, dizziness, and a lightheaded feeling. Patients who experience severe side effects should talk to a doctor, especially if they grow worse over time. Issues like fainting, diarrhea, vomiting, and confusion are all causes for concern. The medication can also damage the liver and kidneys. Patients should remain alert to changes in urinary output, abdominal pain, or changes in skin tone, as these can be signs of organ damage.
Pregnant women should discuss this and other medications with a doctor. They can pose a risk to the developing fetus, depending on the state of the pregnancy and the patient's general level of health. In some cases the risk of not treating issues like high blood pressure is higher than that of going ahead with treatment, but it is important to weigh potential costs and benefits carefully. Some medications can increase the chances of birth defects or pregnancy loss, and it may be possible to pursue more conservative treatment options until the baby is born and the patient can safely go on medication.