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What is Rasagiline?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Rasagiline is a prescription drug most commonly prescribed to patients who have early signs of Parkinson's disease. It may also be used in combination with other medications to treat patients who suffer from more advanced cases of the disease. Rasagiline improves neurological functioning by increasing the amount of dopamine in the brain. When taken daily as directed by a physician, the drug eases symptoms such as muscles weakness, hand tremors, and coordination problems. There are some risks of negative side effects, so it is important to attend frequent health checkups during treatment to make sure the medication is working properly.

Parkinson's disease is an increasingly common cause of nervous system degeneration among people over 60 and some younger adults. Research suggests that the major underlying factor is the destruction of neurons in the brain that rely on dopamine to function properly. Rasagiline helps preserve neurons by keeping dopamine levels elevated. It blocks the activity of an enzyme called monoamine oxidase B that would otherwise break down dopamine and leave the brain in short supply.

People who have mild, early-stage Parkinson's disease symptoms are typically instructed to take single daily doses of rasagiline. The drug comes in 0.5 milligram and 1 milligram oral tablets, and a doctor determines the proper dosing amount to prescribe based on the patient's age, weight, and severity of symptoms. Patients who have advanced Parkinson's disease are usually prescribed 1 milligram rasagiline tablets to take with another dopamine-enhancing drug called levodopa. Dosage strengths and frequencies may be adjusted during treatment depending on how well a person responds to their medications.

Some people experience unwanted side effects when using rasagiline, but they are usually mild and far outweighed by the benefits the drug provides. The most common side effects include headaches, dizzy spells, joint pain, and dry mouth. A patient may also have gastrointestinal problems such as stomach upset, vomiting, and constipation. A doctor may be able to provide relief from common side effects by reducing the daily rasagiline dose.

Rasagiline can rarely cause allergic reactions and other potentially serious health problems. An allergic reaction to the drug may lead to an itchy skin rash, swelling in the face, and difficulties breathing. A small number of patients experience sudden, sharp increases in blood pressure that can cause mental confusion, severe headaches, slurred speech, and numbness in the extremities. It is essential to seek emergency help if major side effects occur to prevent life-threatening complications.

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