Public Release: 

Sleep attacks from Parkinson's drugs do exist

Sleep attacks in patients taking dopamine agonists: review BMJ Volume 324, pp 1483-7

BMJ

Car crashes in patients with Parkinson's disease have been associated with sudden sleep attacks caused by dopamine drugs, but the concept of sleep attacks, and their connection with dopamine drugs, has been disputed.

In this week's BMJ, researchers in Austria aim to determine whether sleep attacks do exist, whether dopamine drugs are implicated, and whether attacks are predictable, preventable, and treatable.

They reviewed 124 patients and found that sleep attacks do exist in up to 30% of patients. They are associated with all dopamine drugs and occur at both high and low doses of the drugs. However, their prediction, prevention, and treatment are yet to be solved.

Despite the potential danger from driving, experts believe that sleep attacks are too infrequent to recommend that patients taking dopamine drugs for Parkinson's disease stop driving, say the authors. Recommendations for driving, other than informing patients of a potential risk, should be made with caution until more data are available, they conclude.

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