Aricept increases the level of acetylcholine in the brain, lessening the decline in mental and physical activity.
In brains of people with Alzheimer’s Disease there is a progressive degeneration of nerve cells. Particularly notable is a degeneration of cells which make acetylcholine, a chemical thought to be important for learning and memory. People with Alzheimer’s Disease have lower brain levels of acetylcholine. Aricept acts by decreasing the activity of acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme whose function is to break down acetylcholine. It is believed that by reducing the breakdown of acetylcholine, it will lead to an increase in the level of acetylcholine in the brain.
Aricept is intended to treat symptoms in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer‘s Disease. In clinical trials, individuals who took the drug when compared to individuals who took a placebo, showed improvement or no further decline in cognition (including memory, orientation, language) and function (including performance of daily activities).
Take one 10mg tablet daily at night prior to retiring. Its absorption is not affected by food so that it may be taken with or without food.
Possible headaches, generalized pain, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weight loss, muscle cramping, joint pain, insomnia and increased frequency of urination.
Drugs with anti-cholinergic properties that can cross into the brain, such as atropine, benztropine (Cogentin) and trihexyphenidyl (Artane) counteract the effects of Aricept and should be avoided during therapy with Aricept.
Aricept is metabolized (eliminated) by enzymes in the liver. The rate of metabolism of Aricept may be increased by medications that increase the amounts of these enzymes, such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), dexamethasone (Decadron), phenobarbital, Phenytoin (Dilantin), and rifampin (Rifadin). By increasing elimination, these drugs may reduce the effects of Aricept.
It is not known whether Aricept is harmful to the foetus. Safe use during pregnancy has not been established. It is not known whether the Donepezil is secreted into breast milk or if breast-feeding while taking Donepezil is safe for the nursing infant.