Labetalol is a medication used to treat high blood pressure and in long term management of angina. This includes essential hypertension, hypertensive emergencies, and hypertension of pregnancy. In essential hypertension it is generally less preferred than a number of other blood pressure medications. It can be given by mouth or by injection into a vein.
Common side effects include low blood pressure with standing, dizziness, feeling tired, and nausea. Serious side effects may include low blood pressure, liver problems, heart failure, and bronchospasm. Use appears safe in the latter part of pregnancy and it is not expected to cause problems during breastfeeding. It works by blocking the activation of β-receptors and α-receptors.
Labetalol was patented in 1966 and came into medical use in 1977. It is available as a generic medication. In 2017, it was the 211th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than two million prescriptions.
It is also used as an alternative in the treatment of severe hypertension.
Pregnancy: studies in lab animals showed no harm to the baby. However, a comparable well-controlled study has not been performed in pregnant women.
Nursing: breast milk has been shown to contain small amounts of labetalol (0.004% original dose). Prescribers should be cautious in the use of labetalol for nursing mothers.
Pediatric: no studies have established safety or usefulness in this population.
Geriatric: the elderly are more likely to experience dizziness when taking labetalol. Labetalol should be dosed with caution in the elderly and counseled on this side effect.