Take methyldopa at the same times each day. It is usual to be prescribed two or three doses to take a day.
Methyldopa can make you feel sleepy, particularly during the first two or three days. Do not drive or use tools or machines while affected.
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 (hypertension)|
Most people with high blood pressure (hypertension) do not feel unwell, but it is important that your high blood pressure is treated even if you feel fine. This is because high blood pressure can be damaging to your blood vessels and can put a strain on your heart. By lowering your blood pressure, methyldopa reduces your cardiovascular risk.
Methyldopa is one of the medicines of choice for treating high blood pressure in pregnancy. When taken during pregnancy, treatment with methyldopa is reviewed soon after the birth of the baby as other treatment options are then likely to be more suitable.
Before taking methyldopa
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine can only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking methyldopa it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have any problems with the way your liver works, or any problems with the way your kidneys work.
- If you have ever had a depressive illness.
- If you have been told you have any of the following rare conditions: an adrenaline-producing growth called a phaeochromocytoma or a paraganglioma, or an inherited blood disorder called porphyria.
- 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 the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about methyldopa and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
- Take methyldopa exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usual to start by taking 250 mg two or three times daily. Your doctor may increase your dose after a few days if it is necessary. Each time you see your doctor you will be told how many tablets to take for each dose, and this information will also be printed on the label of the pack of tablets to remind you about what the doctor said to you.
- Try to take your doses at the same times of day each day, as this will help you to remember to take them regularly. You can take your doses either before or after food. Swallow the tablet with a drink of water.
- If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Try to take the correct number of doses each day but do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor so your progress can be monitored. Your doctor will want you to have blood tests from time to time to make sure your liver is working properly.
- There are three strengths of methyldopa tablet available - 125 mg, 250 mg and 500 mg. Each time you collect a fresh supply of tablets it is a good idea to check to make sure you receive the strength you are expecting. If you have any questions, please ask your pharmacist to advise you.
- Your doctor may give you dietary and lifestyle advice about eating a healthy diet, not smoking, and taking regular exercise. If so, it is important that you follow the advice you are given.
- Drinking alcohol while you are on methyldopa is not recommended. It can increase the chance that you will experience side-effects, such as feeling sleepy or dizzy.
- If you buy any medicines 'over the counter', please check with a pharmacist that they are suitable for you to take with methyldopa. Some medicines, such as some anti-inflammatory painkillers, can interfere with the way methyldopa works.
- If you are due to have 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 can be affected by it.
- 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. The table below contains some of the common ones associated with methyldopa. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common methyldopa side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling sleepy, weak, or tired||This can happen during the first few days of treatment in particular. Do not drive or use tools or machines while affected. Do not drink alcohol|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
Important: if you develop a high temperature which you can't explain, or if you notice any yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice), 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 the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
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 and references
; Aspen, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated January 2015.
British National Formulary; 70th Edition (Sep 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
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