Abilify Warnings and Precautions
Some precautions and warnings with Abilify to be aware of include potential drug interactions, the safety of taking Abilify during pregnancy, and an increased risk of stroke. A few of the conditions that you should let your healthcare provider know about before you take this medicine include epilepsy, diabetes, and low blood pressure.
- Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia
- Low blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension)
- Heart disease, congestive heart failure (CHF), or other heart problems
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also let your healthcare provider know if you:
- Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
- Are breastfeeding
- Drink alcohol.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you may be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Some warnings and precautions to be aware of with Abilify include:
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a special warning (a "black box warning") about the use of Abilify in elderly people with dementia (a condition involving confusion; disorientation; and a loss of memory, intellect, and judgment) or psychosis.
Elderly people with dementia (Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia) who are treated with antipsychotics -- including Abilify -- are more likely to die (of various causes) than those who were not treated with those medications. Abilify is not approved to treat dementia in the elderly, and caution should be used before using Abilify in elderly people with dementia.
- Abilify can cause a life-threatening condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Some symptoms of NMS include:
- A high fever
- Stiff muscles
- Irregular pulse or blood pressure
- A fast heart rate (tachycardia)
- Irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias).
Tell your healthcare provider right away if think you might have NMS.
- Abilify can cause tardive dyskinesia -- a condition involving unusual, uncontrollable body or face movements. The condition can become permanent (even if Abilify is stopped). The best way to prevent it from becoming permanent is to tell your healthcare provider right away if you notice any abnormal movements (including abnormal movements of the tongue) while taking Abilify.
- There is an increased risk of stroke in elderly people who take Abilify for dementia. Abilify is not approved for the treatment of dementia in the elderly -- though it may sometimes be prescribed "off-label" for the treatment of behavior problems in elderly people with dementia.
- All antidepressants must carry a warning stating that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thinking or behavior. Although Abilify is not technically an antidepressant, it must carry this warning because it can be used to treat depression.
- Abilify can cause an increase in blood sugar levels and may increase the risk of developing diabetes. Tell your healthcare provider if you develop signs of diabetes while taking Abilify. Signs of diabetes can include increased thirst, increased urination, or hunger.
If you have diabetes, your blood sugar should be monitored carefully and regularly during treatment with Abilify to make sure your diabetes is not becoming more severe (see Abilify and Diabetes).
- Abilify can cause a drop in blood pressure when going from a sitting or lying position to standing (this is known medically as orthostatic hypotension). This can cause a person to have lightheadedness or dizziness, or to faint.
- Abilify may increase the risk of seizures. Before starting Abilify, tell your healthcare provider if you have epilepsy or a history of seizures.
- Abilify can cause difficultly swallowing, which can lead to inhalation of food (potentially causing pneumonia). Tell your healthcare provider if you notice any problems swallowing during treatment with Abilify.
- Antipsychotics (like Abilify) have been reported to cause low white blood cells. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop frequent or persistent infections, as this may be a sign of low white blood cells. If you already have a low white blood cell count (or have had such a problem in the past), your healthcare provider should monitor your white blood cell count frequently during the first few months you take Abilify.
- Abilify is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe to take during pregnancy. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using Abilify during pregnancy (see Abilify and Pregnancy).
- Abilify passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about using Abilify (see Abilify and Breastfeeding for more information).
- Generally, alcohol should be avoided during treatment with Abilify (see Alcohol and Abilify).
- People with phenylketonuria (a certain genetic disorder) should be aware that Abilify Discmelt® tablets contain phenylalanine. Regular Abilify tablets do not contain phenylalanine.
- Abilify can interact with certain other medications (see Abilify Drug Interactions).