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.
- 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.
The Parkinson's Foundation Aware in Care Kit includes information to help you plan for a hospital stay — including tools to help you or your loved one advocate for the right PD medications at the right time.
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
- 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.