2 Parkinson's drugs cause heart risk, research shows
The risk of heart valve damage with two drugs for Parkinson's disease may be far greater than was known, new research suggests.
The drugs are not the main treatment for Parkinson's, but one is also sometimes used to treat restless legs syndrome.
A study by Italian researchers found that roughly one-fourth of Parkinson's patients taking pergolide or cabergoline, sold as Permax, Dostinex and other brands, had moderate to severe heart valve problems. Another study, by German doctors, found that users of either drug were five to seven times more likely to have leaky heart valves than those on other types of Parkinson's medications. Both studies were reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine.
"This is an extraordinarily high risk," said Dr. Bryan Roth, a pharmacology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Roth had no role in the studies but directs a drug screening program for the National Institute of Mental Health. One of the Parkinson's drugs -- pergolide, sold as Permax and other brands -- also is used to treat restless legs syndrome. Cabergoline, sold as Dostinex, Cabaser and other names, is mostly used in Europe.
About 1.5 million Americans and 6 million people worldwide have Parkinson's disease, which results in tremors, loss of muscle control and sometimes death.
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