This class of drugs encompasses the older dopamine agonists:
- bromocriptine (Parlodel)
As well as the newer drugs:
- pramipexole (Mirapex)
These dopamine agonist drugs are not changed into dopamine inside the brain, unlike levodopa. They mimic the effects of dopamine inside the brain and allow the brain neurons to act as though sufficient amounts of dopamine were present. Dopamine agonists may be used in addition to levodopa therapy. In younger adults, dopamine agonists may be used instead of levodopa.
The various dopamine agonists vary in chemical structure, the range of side-effects that they cause, and their duration or length of action. For example, lisuride has a short duration, while pergolide has the longest duration.
The side-effects and benefits of a particular drug can vary from person to person. If one drug does not reduce symptoms or causes unwanted side-effects, then another dopamine agonist may be better suited.
Dopamine Agonists Side-effects
The side-effects of dopamine agonists are similar to those of levodopa:
Drop in blood pressure (especially when standing) (a condition called orthostatic hypotension)
Involuntary / abnormal movements (a condition known as dyskinesia)
Sweating (particularly around the ankles)
Waxing and waning of the response to the drug (wearing off effects) is common.
However, dopamine agonists are less likely to cause involuntary movements than levodopa and more likely to cause hallucinations, sleepiness, and confusion.
While these symptoms are common when starting a dopamine agonist, they typically decline over several days.
Avoid dopamine agonists and talk to your doctor if you have experienced these side-effects.
If you experience these or any other side-effects, discuss them with your doctor. It may be necessary to change the dosage of your medication or change to another medication which may be more suitable for you.