Labetalol. A reappraisal of its pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and therapeutic use in hypertension and ischaemic heart disease

Drugs. 1989 May;37(5):583-627. doi: 10.2165/00003495-198937050-00002.


Since labetalol was first reviewed in the Journal (1978), its scope of therapeutic use has expanded and become better defined. Labetalol is an adrenoceptor blocking drug with combined alpha- and beta-blocking properties. These result in a more favourable haemodynamic profile for labetalol compared with 'pure' beta-blockers or pure alpha-blockers, but also contribute to a wider range, but not an overall increased incidence, of adverse effects. The drug is effective and well-tolerated in patients with all grades of hypertension, but is of particular value in special subgroups such as Black patients, the elderly and patients with renal hypertension. While comparative studies are not extensive, available data show that the drug reduces blood pressure to a similar extent, and in a similar proportion of patients, as 'pure' beta-blockers such as propranolol, pure alpha-blockers such as prazosin, calcium antagonists (nifedipine, verapamil), and centrally acting drugs (clonidine and methyldopa). Labetalol is very effective in hypertensive pregnant women and in hypertensive crises, where it provides good control of blood pressure without serious adverse effects, and where few therapeutic options exist. Few controlled studies have investigated the use of labetalol in deliberate induction of hypotension or prevention of hypertension during anaesthesia, and also in patients with ischaemic heart disease. However, available evidence suggests a role for labetalol in these indications and further studies should aid in clarification of its efficacy in these areas. Thus, with its broad scope of therapeutic use in hypertension labetalol remains an important therapeutic option, and the drug may well find an additional place in the treatment of myocardial ischaemia if further evidence confirms encouraging preliminary findings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Disease / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy*
  • Labetalol / pharmacokinetics
  • Labetalol / pharmacology*
  • Labetalol / therapeutic use


  • Labetalol