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Cardiovasc Ther. 2011 Dec;29(6):404-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5922.2010.00169.x. Epub 2010 Jun 11.

Regression of cardiac valvulopathy related to ergot-derived dopamine agonists.

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Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit, Istituti Clinici diPerfezionamento, Via Bignami 1, Milan, Italy.



In a previous echocardiographic prevalence study we reported a significant increase in the frequency of heart valve regurgitation in patients with Parkinson's disease taking the ergot-derived dopamine agonists pergolide and cabergoline versus controls. We followed-up our original cohort of patients to ascertain whether valvulopathy regressed after discontinuation of treatment and/or its incidence increased over time.


Prospective follow-up of 101 patients treated with ergot-derived dopamine agonists included in the prevalence study: 53 given pergolide and 48 cabergoline (64% male; 66.4 ± 8.7 years of age, 11.5 ± 5.9 years of disease, 21.8 ± 5.9 months of follow-up); 55 stopped treatment while 46 continued. The main outcomes measures, were: echocardiographic quantification of regurgitant valve disease, abnormal leaflet, or cusp thickening and measurement of mitral valve tenting area.


Valve abnormalities regressed in about one third of patients with significant multivalvular and in about half of the patients with monovalvular regurgitation who withdrew; no progression was observed in remaining patients. Patients continuing ergot-derived dopamine agonists showed progression of cardiac valvulopathy: seven new cases with three to four regurgitation grade of any valve occurred during follow-up; this regarded also patients who had been on pergolide for many years.


Owing to the persistence of risk of heart valve damage over time and the lack of its mid-term reversibility in many patients, we believe that pergolide and cabergoline should be prescribed only when therapeutic alternatives with a better risk/benefit ratio are unavailable and the patient has access to echocardiography.

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