Parkinson's Drug Linked to Heart Valve Disease
Permax May Damage Heart Valves
April 28, 2004 -- A drug commonly used to treat the early
stages of Parkinson's disease may damage the heart and increase the risk of
heart valve disease, according to new research.
The study showed that 89% of Parkinson's disease patients
treated with the drug Permax had leaky heart valves, called valvular
insufficiency, a form of heart valve disease that occurs when the heart valves
don't close properly. The condition forces the heart to work harder to meet the
body's blood circulation needs and could lead to serious complications, such as
heart attack or heart failure.
Researchers say cases of heart valve disease have previously
been reported anecdotally among Parkinson's patients treated with Permax.
Permax is a member of a class of drugs known as dopamine
agonists and stimulates nerves in the brain that would normally be stimulated
by dopamine. People with Parkinson's disease suffer from a shortage of this
The results of the study were presented today at the American
Academy of Neurology 56th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif.
Permax Linked to Heart Valve Disease
To determine whether these anecdotal reports represented
isolated incidents or a common side effect of Permax that had gone unnoticed,
researchers sent letters to 200 people with Parkinson's disease who were known
to be taking Permax.
Those who wished to continue taking the drug were urged to have
a heart ultrasound, called an echocardiogram, to detect any heart valve
Echocardiograms were performed on 46 Parkinson's patients, and
researchers compared the results to an age-matched healthy comparison
The study showed that 89% of the patients treated with Permax
had evidence of leaky valves, and patients taking the drug were up to 18 times
more likely to have significant leakage in at least one of their heart valves
compared with the comparison group.
"Our study demonstrates that [Permax] may injure cardiac
valves and, since they are available, consideration should be given to
switching patients to an alternate dopamine agonist," says researcher
Richard B. Dewey Jr., MD, associate professor of neurology at the University of
Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, in a news release.
Symptoms of heart valve disease include:
- Shortness of breath and/or difficulty breathing
- Weakness or dizziness
- Chest pain or pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Swelling of ankles, feet, or abdomen
- Rapid weight gain
People with Parkinson's disease using Permax or experiencing
these symptoms should discuss the issue with their doctor.