Dopamine agonists - Parkinson's drugs
Dopamine agonist drugs are one of the main ways to treat
Parkinson's symptoms are caused by a
decrease in the levels of the chemical messenger dopamine, due to
the death of the nerve cells in the brain that make it.
Dopamine agonists are used at all stages of Parkinson's.
You might take them alone when treatment is being started, or alongside levodopa to help it work better.
Dopamine agonist drugs act like dopamine to stimulate your nerve
There are branded and unbranded dopamine agonists available.
- bromocriptine (Parlodel, unbranded form)
- cabergoline (Cabaser, unbranded form)
- pergolide (unbranded form)
- pramipexole (Mirapexin, Mirapexin prolonged release, unbranded
- ropinirole (ReQuip, ReQuip XL, Adartrel, Spirico XL,
Ralnea XL, unbranded form)
- rotigotine (Neupro)
- apomorphine (APO-go PEN, APO-go
Dopamine agonists are used at all stages of Parkinson's. You
might take them alone when treatment is being started, or alongside
levodopa to help it work better.
Treatment with dopamine agonists has to be started carefully,
with the dose gradually increased until you and your specialist or
Parkinson's nurse are happy that your
symptoms are under control.
If you have any form of heart or lung disease, or symptoms that
might be related to a problem with your heart or lungs, tell your
GP, specialist or Parkinson's nurse if you are thinking about
taking a dopamine agonist.
Taking dopamine agonists
agonists are introduced gradually, benefits begin to appear as
dosage is increased. They can prevent side effects such as
involuntary movements (dyskinesia) and 'on/off' fluctuations.
Research has shown they can also have a good effect on the
symptoms of Parkinson's that are not related to movement.
Most dopamine agonists are taken by mouth as tablets or capsules
up to several times a day. These come in different strengths.
Some dopamine agonists are now being made as 'one-a-day'
tablets, or as prolonged-release tablets. These work for longer in
the body compared to normal capsules and tablets.
There is also a patch for rotigotine that is applied once daily
onto the skin. This may be good if you have trouble swallowing
Apomorphine is available in
injection form or as a continuous infusion under the skin.
Side effects and problems with dopamine agonists
Common side effects of dopamine agonists include:
- nausea and vomiting
- drowsiness and sudden 'attacks' of sleepiness
- dizziness or fainting due to low blood pressure
- hallucinations or
delusions and confusion
- existing dyskinesias (uncontrolled movements) may initially
become more troublesome
Impulsive and compulsive behaviour
Some people taking dopamine agonists have problems controlling
impulsive and compulsive behaviour.
More information about dopamine agonists
Read our Drug treatments for Parkinson's
Treatment with dopamine agonists has to be started carefully, with the dose gradually increased until you and your specialist or Parkinson's nurse are happy that your symptoms are under control.
Or visit the Medicine Guides website for independent, up-to-date
information about these medicines:
More drug treatments for Parkinson's
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