Donepezil is used to treat confusion (dementia) related to Alzheimer’s disease. It does not cure Alzheimer’s disease, but it may improve memory, awareness, and the ability to function. This medication is an enzyme blocker that works by restoring the balance of natural substances (neurotransmitters) in the brain.
How to use Aricept
Read the Patient Information Leaflet if available from your pharmacist before you start taking donepezil and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth with or without food as directed by your doctor, usually once daily just before bedtime. If you experience sleep problems (insomnia), talk to your doctor about switching to a morning dose.
If you are taking the 23-milligram strength tablets, swallow them whole. Do not split, crush, or chew these tablets. Doing so can increase the risk of side effects.
Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. To reduce your risk of side effects (such as nausea and diarrhea), your doctor will start this medication at a low dose and gradually increase your dose over weeks to months. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often than prescribed.
If you do not take donepezil for 7 or more days in row, talk with your doctor before starting again. You may need to start at a lower dose to decrease the risk of side effects.
Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day. Do not stop taking it unless your doctor instructs you to do so. It may take a several weeks before you get the full benefit of this drug.
Tell your doctor if your condition worsens.
ricept is a drug treatment for Alzheimer’s disease which prevents an enzyme known as acetylcholinesterase from breaking down acetylcholine in the brain.
Increased concentrations of acetylcholine lead to increased communication between nerve cells, which may in turn temporarily improve or stabilise the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Aricept is the trade name for the drug donepezil hydrochloride.
What Is Donepezil (Aricept)?
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Donepezil, which is sold under the brand name Aricept, is a cholinesterase inhibitor (an enzyme blocker) used to treat mild, moderate, or severe dementia in people who have Alzheimer’s disease.
It improves mental functions (including attention, memory, and the ability to interact and speak with others) by preventing the naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain from breaking down.
It will not cure Alzheimer’s or prevent the loss of mental abilities in the future.
Donepezil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996 to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s. Currently, donepezil is the world’s best-selling Alzheimer’s drug.
In 2006, Aricept was approved to treat severe dementia in people with Alzheimer’s. The first generic formulation became available in 2010.
Donepezil has also been tested in patients with schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder, and mild cognitive impairment. A 2001 study shows donepezil improves the speech of autistic children.
Donepezil must be taken as prescribed, even if you feel good, to be effective. If you experience sleep problems, your doctor may switch you to a morning dose.
Before taking donepezil, consult with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you are planning to have surgery, including dental surgery.
Donepezil should be used with caution by patients who also experience cardiac disease, asthma, severe cardiac arrhythmias, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), so consult with your doctor before using.
Always tell your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
Donepezil (Aricept) Side Effects
Less serious side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Frequent urination
- Muscle cramps, painful and swollen joints
- Excessive tiredness
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Headache, nervousness, dizziness
- Depression, mood swings
- Vivid dreams
More serious side effects may demand immediate emergency medical attention and include:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty with urination
- Swelling of the tongue, throat, or face
- Severe anemia
- Slow heartbeat
- Breathing problems
- Worsening stomach pain
- Black or bloody stools
- Bloody vomit
Donepezil (Aricept) Interactions
Drugs with anti-cholinergic properties that counteract donepezil and should be avoided include:
- Bentropine (Cogentin)
- Atropine (Atropine Sulfate)
- Trihexyphenidyl (Artane)
The following medications, which increase enzymes in the liver, may reduce the effect of donepezil:
- Phenobarbital (Luminal)
- Phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Rifampin (Rifadin)
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
- Dexamethasone (Decadron)
There are other medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC), that interact with donepezil. It’s important to tell your doctor all of the medications you are taking.
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