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Dopamine agonists stimulate the parts of the brain influenced by dopamine. In effect, dopamine agonists trick the brain into thinking it is receiving the dopamine it needs. In general, dopamine agonists are not as potent as carbidopa-levodopa and may be less likely to cause dyskinesias.

Quick Facts

  • Dopamine agonists are a different class of drugs than levodopa.
  • While levodopa is converted in the brain into dopamine, dopamine agonists mimic the effects of dopamine without having to be converted.
  • Aside from carbidopa-levodopa, dopamine agonists are often prescribed to treat the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (PD), especially historically.

Be Prepared

The Hospital Safety Guide is a resource for people with Parkinson's and their care partners filled with useful tools and information to prepare for and navigate a hospital stay.

Forms of Dopamine Agonists

Similar to levodopa, there are also many different formulations of dopamine agonists. Taking the right medication on time every time is a key component of living well with PD. Your doctor will work with you to determine what medications are right for you and to make you aware of potential drug interactions.

Common Side Effects of Dopamine Agonist

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or sudden sleep attacks
  • Confusion or visual hallucinations
  • Low blood pressure or lightheadedness
  • Leg swelling and discoloration
  • Dyskinesia
  • Compulsive behaviors (such as uncontrolled shopping, gambling, eating, and sexual urges)

Page reviewed by Dr. Chauncey Spears, Clinical Assistant Professor and Dr. Amelia Heston, Movement Disorders Fellow at the University of Michigan.

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