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reserpine

Pronunciation

Generic Name: reserpine (re SER peen)
Brand Name:

What is reserpine?

Reserpine lowers blood pressure by decreasing the levels of certain chemicals in your blood. This allows your blood vessels (veins and arteries) to relax (widen) and your heart to beat more slowly and easily.

Reserpine is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure).

Reserpine is also sometimes used to treat psychotic states such as schizophrenia.

Reserpine may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about reserpine?

Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Reserpine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness, avoid these activities.

Use caution when rising from a sitting or lying position, especially first thing in the morning. You may become dizzy while taking reserpine and you may fall and injure yourself if you get up quickly.

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Do not stop taking reserpine suddenly. Even if you feel better, you need this medication to control your condition. Stopping suddenly could cause severe high blood pressure, anxiety, and other dangerous side effects.

Avoid alcohol. Alcohol will greatly increase the effects of reserpine, which could be dangerous.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking reserpine?

Do not take reserpine without first talking to your doctor if you

  • have peptic ulcer disease (stomach ulcers);

  • have ulcerative colitis;

  • are suffering from depression (especially if you have suicidal thoughts);

  • are receiving electroconvulsive shock therapy; or

  • are taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor such as isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), or tranylcypromine (Parnate) or have taken one in the last 14 days.

Before taking this medication, tell your doctor if you have

  • gallstones,

  • kidney disease,

  • asthma, or

  • any type of heart disease.

You may require a lower dose or special monitoring during therapy with reserpine if you have any of the conditions listed above.

Reserpine is in the FDA pregnancy category C. This means that it is not known whether reserpine will harm an unborn baby. Do not take reserpine without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant.

Reserpine passes into breast milk and may harm a nursing infant. Do not take reserpine without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Reserpine has not been approved for use by children.

How should I take reserpine?

Take reserpine exactly as directed. If you do not understand these directions, ask your pharmacist, nurse, or doctor to explain them to you.

Take each dose with a full glass of water.

Take reserpine with food or milk if it upsets your stomach.

Do not stop taking reserpine suddenly. Stopping suddenly could make your condition much worse or cause very serious side effects.

Store this medication at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the dose you missed and take only your next regularly scheduled dose. Do not take a double dose of this medication.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention.

Symptoms of a reserpine overdose include low blood pressure (fainting, dizziness, weakness); slow pulse; low body temperature; diarrhea; and slow breathing.

What should I avoid while taking reserpine?

Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Reserpine may cause dizziness or drowsiness. If you experience dizziness or drowsiness, avoid these activities.

Use caution when rising from a sitting or lying position, especially first thing in the morning. You may become dizzy while taking reserpine and you may fall and injure yourself if you get up quickly.

Avoid becoming overheated in hot weather or during exercise. Also avoid standing for long periods of time and use caution if you have a fever. These situations increase the effects of reserpine in your body, and you may become very dizzy.

Avoid alcohol while taking reserpine. It may increase the drowsiness you experience from reserpine therapy and may also increase dizziness. Use caution even with small amounts of alcohol.

Do not take other drugs such as sleeping pills, prescription pain relievers, antihistamines, or antidepressants without first talking to your doctor. These medicines may increase the drowsiness caused by reserpine. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any other prescription or over-the-counter medications you are taking.

Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking this medication.

Reserpine side effects

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking reserpine and seek emergency medical attention:

  • an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives);

  • a very irregular heartbeat;

  • heart failure (shortness of breath, swelling of ankles or legs, sudden weight gain of 5 pounds or more);

  • uncontrollable hand, arm, or leg movements; or

  • chest pain.

Other, less serious side effects are more likely to occur. Continue to take reserpine and talk to your doctor if you experience

  • fatigue or drowsiness;

  • dizziness (avoid standing up too quickly and use caution when performing hazardous activities);

  • anxiety, depression, or nightmares;

  • diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting (take reserpine with food or milk if it upsets your stomach);

  • stuffy nose or a dry mouth (sucking on ice chips or sugarless hard candy may relieve a dry mouth);

  • blurred vision;

  • weight gain; or

  • impotence or difficulty ejaculating.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

Reserpine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Hypertension:

Initial dose: 0.5 mg orally once a day for 1 to 2 weeks.
Maintenance dose: 0.1 to 0.25 mg orally once a day.

Usual Adult Dose for Schizophrenia:

Initial dose: 0.5 mg orally once a day, but may range from 0.1 to 1 mg.
Maintenance dose: Adjust dose upward or downward according to patient response.

Usual Adult Dose for Hyperthyroidism:

The value of orally administered reserpine during thyrotoxic crisis is not known.

Limited data in which seven patients with thyrotoxic crisis received reserpine 1 to 5 mg intramuscularly, then 0.07 to 0.3 mg per kg in the first 24 hours reveal significant, dose-related improvement in symptoms within four to eight hours of drug administration.

What other drugs will affect reserpine?

Do not take reserpine if you are taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) or if you have taken one in the last 14 days. MAOIs, used to treat depression, include isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

Before taking reserpine, tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:

  • a tricyclic antidepressant such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep), imipramine (Tofranil), doxepin (Sinequan), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and others;

  • quinidine (Cardioquin); or

  • digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxicaps).

You may require special monitoring or a dose adjustment if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.

Reserpine may increase the effects of other drugs that cause drowsiness, including antidepressants, alcohol, antihistamines, sedatives (used to treat insomnia), pain relievers, anxiety medicines, and muscle relaxants. Tell your doctor about all medicines that you are taking, and do not take any medicine unless your doctor approves.

Drugs other than those listed here may also interact with reserpine or affect your condition. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about reserpine.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.03. Revision Date: 2010-12-15, 5:01:39 PM.

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