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Dopamine is used in the treatment of diseases of the heart muscle, kidney and those with poor blood flow. It is also used in the treatment of shock associated with heart attacks, trauma (injury), blood poisoning, open heart surgery and heart failure.

How it works

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that stimulates the heart and acts on blood vessels and the kidneys.

Common side effects

Nausea, Pain in extremity, Altered heart rate, Chest pain, Decreased blood pressure, Dilatation of the pupil of the eye, Shortness of breath, Ecg changes, Headache, Increased blood pressure, Increased blood urea, Narrowing of blood vessels, Tachycardia, Heart beat irregular, Vomiting


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Expert advice

  • Your breathing, blood pressure, oxygen levels, kidney function, and other vital signs will be watched closely while you are receiving dopamine.
  • Take precautions if you have or had any of the following medical conditions: coronary artery disease (hardened arteries), circulation problems such as Raynaud's syndrome, a history of blood clots, diabetes, frostbite, Buergers disease, asthma, sulfite allergy, or if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the last 21 days.
  • Tell your doctor if you are or planning to become pregnant or are breast-feeding.

Frequently asked questions


Q. Is dopamine a hormone/ a neurotransmitter/ a catecholamine/ a monoamine/ a chemical/ a stimulant/ a protein/ a vasopressor?
Dopamine is not a protein; it is a chemical, hormone, neurotransmitter, stimulant, monoamine, catecholamine and a vasopressor. 
Q. Does dopamine cause vasodilation/ anxiety/ make you tired/increase libido/ increase systemic vascular resistance (svr)/ cause addiction?
Dopamine causes vasodilation and may increase systemic vascular resistance possibly when taken in high amounts. Dopamine use can lead to addiction.
Q. Is dopamine inhibitory or excitatory/ does dopamine inhibit prolactin?
Dopamine is a special neurotransmitter because it is considered to be both excitatory and inhibitory. It is a prolactin inhibitor.

Content on this page was last updated on 30 September, 2016, by Dr. Varun Gupta (MD Pharmacology)