Aricept improves the function of nerve cells in the brain. It works by preventing the breakdown of a chemical called acetylcholine (ah see til KO leen). People with dementia usually have lower levels of this chemical, which is important for the processes of memory, thinking, and reasoning.
Aricept is used to treat mild to moderate dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
Do not take Aricept if you are allergic to donepezil.
Before taking Aricept, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
- a heart rhythm disorder such as “sick sinus syndrome” (slow heartbeats);
- a history of stomach ulcers;
- an enlarged prostate or urination problems;
- epilepsy or other seizure disorder; or
- asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
If you have any of these conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take Aricept.
FDA pregnancy category C. Aricept may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether Aricept passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Aricept without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using Aricept and call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
- black, bloody, or tarry stools;
- coughing up blood or vomit that looks like blood or coffee grounds;
- painful or difficult urination;
- seizure (black-out or convulsions);
Less serious side effects may include:
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
- loss of appetite;
- muscle cramps;
- tired feeling; or
- sleep problems (insomnia).
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect.