Background: Restrictive valvular heart disease has been reported in patients with Parkinson's disease treated with pergolide. However, few data are available on frequency, severity, dose dependency, and reversibility of pergolide-induced disease, nor on the pulmonary pressures of these patients. We aimed to clarify these characteristics in a large group of patients.
Methods: 78 patients with Parkinson's disease treated with pergolide and 18 never treated with an ergot-derived dopamine agonist (controls) were evaluated by echocardiography. A valvular scoring system was used, ranging from 1 (proven ergot-like restrictive valvular heart disease) to 4 (no disease). For the mitral valve, tenting areas and tenting distances were measured. Systolic pulmonary artery pressures were derived from the tricuspid regurgitant jet.
Findings: Restrictive valvular heart disease of any type was present in 26 (33%) patients in the pergolide group and none in controls (p=0.0025). Important disease (score 1 or 2) was present in 15 (19%) patients in the pergolide group and none in controls (p=0.066). Mean tenting distances and tenting areas of the mitral valve were 1.08 cm (range 0.55-2.66) and 2.39 cm2 (0.88-4.59) in the restrictive mitral valve group versus 0.63 cm (0.22-1.20) and 1.39 cm2 (0.39-3.23) in the non-restrictive group (p=0.003 and p<0.0001, respectively). Significant correlation was noted between cumulative doses of pergolide and tenting areas of the mitral valves (r=0.412, p=0.017). Mean systolic pulmonary artery pressures were 39.3 mm Hg (range 25-71) in the high-dose group versus 38.5 mm Hg (20-65) in the low-dose group (p=0.76) and 31 mm Hg (25-40) in controls (p=0.02 vs all patients given pergolide). In six patients, pergolide treatment was stopped because of restrictive valvular heart disease, in two of whom regression of disease was shown.
Interpretation: Restrictive valvular heart disease is not a rare finding in patients treated with pergolide. Clinicians should consider changing to a non-ergot drug if this disease is diagnosed.