What is Aricept?
Aricept is a brand of drug prescribed for patients who are diagnosed to have Alzheimer’s disease. Its generic name is donepezil and it works to normalize and/or improve the functioning of nervous cell tissues in the brain. Through its effect in inhibiting the enzyme acetyl cholinesterase, Aricept effectively blocks the breakdown of one important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. People with Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia are known to have very low levels of acetylcholine, which is considered a vital part in the proper functioning of nerve cells for reasoning, thinking, and memory. With Aricept treatment, acetylcholine levels in the brain will be improved and thus improve some symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Aricept is available in tablet form at 5 and 10 milligrams. It got its approval from the US FDA back in 1996 and now is widely used for the dementia symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Typical dosage is one tablet a day and this drug is usually taken at around bedtime. There are no known interactions or adverse reactions when Aricept is taken with or without food. But Aricept is known to have interactions with other anti-cholinergic drugs including atropine and benztropine among others. These types of drugs may counteract the action of Aricept so patients are advised not to take these drugs along with Aricept medication. For concerns on other drug interactions and side effects of Aricept, patients should coordinate with their doctors for proper medical advice. Common side effects of this drug include dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, pain the joints or generalized form of pain, body weakness, inability to sleep well, and frequent urination. As for pregnant women and nursing mothers, there is no research data available with regards to the effect of Aricept on breast milk and on the developing fetus. In these instances, regular monitoring and check-ups with doctors is highly recommended.