Mirapex to Treat Restless Legs Syndrome

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The pharmaceutical drug pramipexole, sold under the brand names of Mirapex and Mirapex ER, is a commonly prescribed medication used to treat restless legs syndrome.

female pharmacist handing medication to senior woman
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Mirapex is a medication that acts to stimulate dopamine receptors. It is used to treat conditions like restless legs syndrome and Parkinson’s disease.

There are two types of Mirapex available on the market. One is the standard formulation and the other is an extended release (ER) version. It takes the body a longer time to metabolize Mirapex ER, which means it can be taken less frequently, but the effects of each formulation are the same.

How It Works

It is not known precisely how Mirapex works, but it is thought to act within the nervous system at the site of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that serve as messengers between nerve cells called neurons. Mirapex is believed to stimulate dopamine receptors, which increases their activity.

Who Should Not Use It

In some cases, it may be advised that you should not use Mirapex. In individuals with a history of heart disease or kidney problems, you may wish to discuss with your healthcare provider whether Mirapex is safe for you. Caution should be used if you take other medications that depress the central nervous system, so make certain your healthcare provider is aware of all the medications that you take. If you drink alcohol, have sleep disorders or are elderly, you should likewise be cautious when using Mirapex.

Side Effects

As with any drug, there are potential side effects with the use of Mirapex. You are unlikely to experience most of these, and may not have any of them, but some side effects that commonly occur with the use of Mirapex include:

  • Low blood pressure with standing
  • Abnormal movements
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Sleepiness or insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Loss of sensation
  • Hallucinations
  • Swelling
  • Confusion
  • Accidental injury
  • Loss of appetite
  • Amnesia (memory loss)
  • Vision changes
  • Headache
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Malaise or feeling unwell
  • Weight loss
  • Impotence
  • Dry mouth
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulties walking
  • Increased urinary frequency
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nasal congestion
  • Pain in the extremities

With the use of any drug, including Mirapex, there are also risks of serious side effects. These occur more rarely, but include:

  • Sudden sleep episodes
  • Fainting spells (syncope)
  • Abnormal movements
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Hallucinations
  • Malignant melanoma (skin cancer)
  • Rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown)
  • Fibrosis (tissue scarring)
  • Rebound phenomena or augmentation (change of symptoms)

Safety Precautions

As described above, certain people should use Mirapex with caution or not at all. Your kidney function should be checked when you start Mirapex with a blood test to measure creatinine. Once started, the medication should not be stopped abruptly. It is important to have routine skin examinations and your blood pressure should be carefully monitored, especially when the dose is being adjusted. The safety of using Mirapex during pregnancy or breastfeeding is unknown. If you experience any difficulties, you should be in close contact with your primary healthcare provider.

1 Source
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  1. Eisenreich W, Sommer B, Hartter S, Jost WH. Pramipexole extended release: a novel treatment option in Parkinson's disease. Parkinsons Dis. 2010;2010:612619. doi:10.4061/2010/612619

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