Meds and you

Updated 11 February 2013


Acebutolol is the active ingredient of Sectral and Butoblock.


Acebutolol is the active ingredient of Sectral and Butoblock.

General Information

Acebutolol is indicated for the treatment of high blood pressure and fast or irregular heart rhythms. It does not cure any of these conditions, but simply keeps them under control and is therefore prescribed to be taken long term.

For acebutol to be effective it has to be taken regularly, even if you do not notice an immediate effect. Blood pressure declines gradually and it may take a few weeks before you get the full benefit.

Acebutolol may provoke breathing difficulties due to its effect on receptors in the lungs. If you suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions, acebutolol should be taken with caution. You may also find strenuous activities more difficult, partly because of the drug's effect on the lungs, and partly because it reduces heart rate.

Beta blocking drugs may also reduce blood supply to the limbs en extremities and may therefore cause cold hands and feet. Some men may also experience temporary impotence when taking acebutolol as a result of reduced blood circulation.

How does acebutolol work?

Acebutolol reduces the stimulating effect of noradrenalin. As a result is lowers the force and speed at which the heart is beating. This assists in stabilising fast and abnormal heart rhythms, and reduces blood pressure.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: Schedule 3

Available as: Acebutolol is available as tablets and capsules.

What does it do ? Acebutol lowers blood pressure and reduce heart rate

Overdose risk: Medium

Dependence risk: Low

Is acebutolol available as a generic? Yes

Is acebutolol available on prescription only ? Yes

User information

Dietary advice: Acebutolol can be taken with or without food.

Stopping this medicine: Acebutolol should never be stopped suddenly after prolonged use. This may markedly increase blood pressure, cause chest pain and may cause fast or irregular hearth rhythms. A heart attack may even be provoked. When treatment with acebutolol needs to be stopped, the dosage should be gradually reduced under medical supervision.

Prolonged use: No problems is expected with long-term use

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you suffer from asthma or any other respiratory condition,
  • you have had severe congestive heart failure in the past,
  • you have known liver or kidney disease,
  • you have diabetes. Acebutolol may mask some of the warning signs of low blood sugar such as a fast heart rate, and
  • you have a medical emergency, or before you have any surgery.

Pregnancy: Avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant

Breastfeeding: Avoid. This medication is passed through breast milk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: This medication is safe to use.

Infants and children: This medication is not intended for use in children.

Elderly: Lower doses may be necessary.

Driving and hazardous work : Acebutolol may cause dizziness and fatigue. Avoid such activities until you have learned how acebutolol affects you.

Alcohol: No special precautions need to be taken.

Possible side effects

Side effect


Consult your doctor



Only if severe

In all cases




Dizziness/ tiredness/ weakness












Chest pain or tightness



difficulty breathing/ shortness of breath



swelling of ankles




Drug interactions:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprofen

Certain blood pressure medications like reserpine

Severe low blood pressure or slow heart rate may occur

Certain drugs for malaria/malaria prevention

Risk of serious heart problems may be increased


Increase potential for acebutolol toxicity

Certain over-the-counter cold and flu remedies

Risk of severe high blood pressure


May decrease acebutolol 's effectiveness


Severe high blood pressure may occur

Disease interactions

Contact your doctor before use in case of heart block or a severely slow heartbeat, if you suffer from asthma or any other respiratory condition, if you have had severe congestive heart failure in the past, if you have known liver or kidney disease, or if you have diabetes. Symptoms of Raynaud's syndrome and Myasthenia gravis may be exacerbated by treatment with acebutolol.

Overdose action

An overdose of this medication can be serious. Seek immediate emergency medical attention.

Recommended dosage

Adults: 400-800 mg daily in 1-2 divided doses.

Interesting fact

Because acebutolol has lipophilic properties, and therefore crosses the blood-brain barrier, it may cause nightmares and strange dreams.

This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only. Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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