Guanfacine (patient information)
Why this medication is prescribed
Guanfacine is used to treat high blood pressure. It works by decreasing your heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How this medication should be used
Guanfacine comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It usually is taken once a day at bedtime. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take guanfacine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Guanfacine controls high blood pressure but does not cure it. Continue to take guanfacine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking guanfacine without talking to your doctor.
Abruptly stopping guanfacine may increase blood pressure and cause unwanted side effects.
Other uses for this medicine
Guanfacine also is used in the treatment of migraine headaches and drug withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.
Before taking guanfacine:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to guanfacine or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, especially other medications for high blood pressure, amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Adepin, Sinequan), imipramine (Tofranil), nortriptyline (Aventyl, Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), sleeping pills, trimipramine (Surmontil), and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had coronary artery disease, kidney or liver disease, or a heart attack.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking guanfacine, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking guanfacine.
- you should know that this drug may make you drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this drug affects you.
- ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are using guanfacine. Alcohol can make the side effects from guanfacine worse.
Special dietary instructions
Your doctor may prescribe a low-salt or low-sodium diet. Follow these directions carefully.
What to do if you forget a dose
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
Minor Side Effects
Guanfacine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- dry mouth
- decreased sexual ability
- upset stomach
Severe Side Effects
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- increased or decreased heartbeat
- irregular heartbeat
- swollen ankles or feet
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at http://www.fda.gov/MedWatch/report.htm] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Storage conditions needed for this medication
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed. Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to guanfacine.
Your doctor may ask you to check your pulse (heart rate) daily and will tell you how rapid it should be. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to teach you how to take your pulse. If your pulse is slower or faster than it should be, call your doctor before taking the drug that day.
To relieve dry mouth caused by guanfacine, chew gum or suck sugarless hard candy.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.