Take methyldopa at the same times each day. It is usual to take it two or three times a day.
Methyldopa may make you feel sleepy, particularly during the first two or three days.
Continue to take methyldopa tablets until you are advised otherwise by your doctor.
|Type of medicine||A centrally acting antihypertensive medicine|
|Used for||High blood pressure|
Most people with high blood pressure do not feel unwell, but it is important that your high blood pressure should be treated even if you feel fine. This is because high blood pressure may be damaging to your blood vessels and can put a strain on your heart. By lowering blood pressure, antihypertensives like methyldopa reduce this risk.
Methyldopa works by relaxing (widening) your blood vessels. This reduces your blood pressure and allows blood and oxygen to circulate more freely around your body.
Methyldopa is the medicine of choice for treating high blood pressure in pregnancy, as it is not harmful to a developing baby.
Before taking methyldopa
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 methyldopa it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you have any kidney or liver problems.
- If you have ever had a depressive illness.
- If you have been told you have phaeochromocytoma (a growth on your adrenal glands), or porphyria (this is a rare inherited blood disorder).
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take methyldopa
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the brand of methyldopa you have been given, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take methyldopa exactly as your doctor has told you. It is usual to start by taking one tablet (250 mg) two or three times daily, although your doctor may increase this dose after a few days if it is necessary. This allows your doctor to make sure that you have the dose that helps your condition and avoids any unwanted symptoms. Each time you see your doctor you will be told how many tablets to take and when to take them, and your dose will also be on the label of the pack to remind you.
- Swallow the tablets with a drink of water. It is not important whether you take them before or after meals.
- Try to take your doses at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them.
- If you do forget to take a dose, don't worry, just remember to take your next dose as normal. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- There are three different strengths of methyldopa tablets - 125 mg, 250 mg and 500 mg. Each time you collect a fresh prescription, check the packet to make sure you have been given the strength of tablet you are expecting.
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor so your progress can be monitored. Your doctor may want you to have blood tests from time to time to make sure your liver is working properly.
- Drinking alcohol while you are on methyldopa may increase the chance that you experience side-effects (such as feeling sleepy) and is not recommended.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take. This is because some medicines (such as some anti-inflammatory painkillers) may interfere with methyldopa.
- If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment that you are taking methyldopa. This is because some anaesthetics can affect your blood pressure. Also, before having any medical tests, tell the person carrying out the test that you are taking methyldopa, as the results of some tests may be affected by it.
- Your doctor will advise you on what lifestyle changes you can make to help your condition. These may include losing weight if you are overweight, taking regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, cutting back if you drink a lot of alcohol, stopping smoking, and reducing the amount of salt in your meals and caffeine in your drinks. It is important that you follow any advice you are given.
- Continue to take methyldopa tablets until you are advised otherwise by your doctor.
Can methyldopa 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 methyldopa side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling sleepy, weak, or tired||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines. Avoid alcohol|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
Important: if you develop a high temperature which you can't explain, speak with your doctor as soon as possible. Occasionally, some people taking methyldopa have had blood or liver problems and your doctor will want you to have a blood test to check for these.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store methyldopa
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Aldomet® Tablets 250 mg and 500 mg; Aspen, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated April 2010.
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Adrian Bonsall|
|Last Checked: 16/10/2012||Document ID: 3268 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.