Background: Ergot-derived dopamine receptor agonists, often used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, have been associated with an increased risk of valvular heart disease.
Methods: We performed an echocardiographic prevalence study in 155 patients taking dopamine agonists for Parkinson's disease (pergolide, 64 patients; cabergoline, 49; and non-ergot-derived dopamine agonists, 42) and 90 control subjects. Valve regurgitation was assessed according to American Society of Echocardiography recommendations. The mitral-valve tenting area was also measured and used as a quantitative index for leaflet stiffening and apical displacement of leaflet coaptation.
Results: Clinically important regurgitation (moderate to severe, grade 3 to 4) in any valve was found with significantly greater frequency in patients taking pergolide (23.4%) or cabergoline (28.6%) but not in patients taking non-ergot-derived dopamine agonists (0%), as compared with control subjects (5.6%). The relative risk for moderate or severe valve regurgitation in the pergolide group was 6.3 for mitral regurgitation (P=0.008), 4.2 for aortic regurgitation (P=0.01), and 5.6 for tricuspid regurgitation (P=0.16); corresponding relative risks in the cabergoline group were 4.6 (P=0.09), 7.3 (P<0.001), and 5.5 (P=0.12). The mean mitral tenting area was significantly greater in ergot-treated patients and showed a linear relationship with the severity of mitral regurgitation. Patients treated with ergot derivatives who had grade 3 to 4 regurgitation of any valve had received a significantly higher mean cumulative dose of pergolide or cabergoline than had patients with lower grades.
Conclusions: The frequency of clinically important valve regurgitation was significantly increased in patients taking pergolide or cabergoline, but not in patients taking non-ergot-derived dopamine agonists, as compared with control subjects. These findings should be considered in evaluating the risk-benefit ratio of treatment with ergot derivatives.
Copyright 2007 Massachusetts Medical Society.