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Paul Kiesel
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2 Parkinson's Drugs Linked to Heart Damage

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2 Parkinson’s drugs cause heart damage. 2 new studies confirm risk of commonly used Parkinson’s disease drugs.

Two recent studies have confirmed earlier findings that two drugs commonly prescribed for Parkinson’s disease may cause damage to the heart. The two studies, one conducted in Italy and the other in Germany, were published this month in The New England Journal of Medicine. They both show that the risk of taking pergolide and cabergoline is much higher than previously suspected.

“This is not a rare side effect,” said Dr. Bryan L. Roth of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who wrote an editorial accompanying the report. “That’s an extraordinarily high incidence. That makes this a serious problem.”

The two drugs at issue cause the heart valves to develop fibrous deposits that result in blood leakage back into the heart. The heart must then work much harder, which can lead to heart failure.

Parkinson’s disease strikes up to 100,000 Americans each year and is characterized by severe tremors, rigidity of limbs and loss of muscle control. It is caused by the death of brain cells that create the neurotransmitter dopamine. Cabergoline and pergolide are part of a group of drugs called dopamine agonists. Among this class of drugs are newer ones which treat Parkinson’s disease but do not damage the heart.