Prior to taking donepezil, you should tell your healthcare provider if you have:
- Asthma or other lung disease
- Difficulty passing urine
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Low blood pressure
- Seizures or epilepsy
- Stomach or intestinal disease, ulcers, or bleeding
- An allergy to donepezil or other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives.
It is also important to let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant (see Aricept and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see Aricept and Breastfeeding)
- Going to have any procedure or surgery.
Tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you may currently be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Donepezil for more information on this topic, including information on who should not take the medication.)
Donepezil is part of a class of drugs known as acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. It works by stopping a specific enzyme (known as acetylcholinesterase) from breaking down acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is a chemical that aids in many brain functions, including memory, attention, reason, and language.
Patients with Alzheimer's generally have a decline in memory and learning that is related to the loss of acetylcholine in the brain. Since donepezil can prevent the breakdown of this chemical, more of it remains in the brain for a longer time. This helps to slow the decline in memory and learning, and allows a person with Alzheimer's symptoms to perform simple daily tasks. However, donepezil is not a cure for Alzheimer's and cannot slow the progression of the disease.