Donepazil is type of medicine called an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. It is used to treat Alzheimer's and works by slowing the breakdown of a compound in the brain called acetylcholine.
Donepazil is also used as a cognitive enhancer
Acetylcholine is a natural compound known as a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are stored in nerve cells in the brain and nervous system, and are involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells. They are necessary for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system. Acetylcholine in the brain is continually being released by nerve cells, and then broken down by another natural chemical called acetylcholinesterase. One of the features of Alzheimer's disease appears to be a lower than normal level of acetylcholine in the brain. This is due in part to degeneration of brain cells, in particular those that normally release acetylcholine. Donepezil increases the level of acetylcholine in the brain. It does this by preventing the action of acetylcholinesterase, the compound that normally breaks it down. This slows the breakdown of acetylcholine that is released from remaining undamaged nerve cells in the brain. The result of this is increased activity of acetylcholine in the brain. This improves the cognitive processes of thinking, learning and memory, and improves the symptoms of dementia and daily functioning in Alzheimer's disease.
Donepezil is used to treat mild to moderately severe dementia in people with Alzheimer's disease. However, it only slows the worsening of the dementia, rather than being a cure. As a result, your doctor will want to re-assess the patient after they have been taking the medicine for two to four months at the maintenance dose. If there has been no improvement in their symptoms, or they continue to deteriorate, your doctor may decide it is not worth continuing the medicine. For patients who continue treatment, the benefit of the medicine should be reassessed on a regular basis. The medicine should be stopped when it is considered that it is no longer providing a beneficial effect.
Donepazil is usually taken once daily. Always refer to product literature.