- A Visual Guide to Heart Disease
- Medical Illustrations of the Heart Image Collection
- Take the Heart Disease Quiz!
- What is digoxin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for digoxin?
- Is digoxin available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for digoxin?
- What are the uses for digoxin?
- What are the side effects of digoxin?
- What is the dosage for digoxin?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with digoxin?
- Is digoxin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about digoxin?
What is digoxin, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Digoxin increases the strength and efficiency of heart contractions, and is useful in the treatment of heart failure and control the rate and rhythm of the heart. It is extracted from the leaves of a plant called digitalis lanata. Digoxin increases the force of contraction of the muscle of the heart by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme (ATPase) that controls movement of calcium, sodium, and potassium into heart muscle. Calcium controls the force of contraction. Inhibiting ATPase increases calcium in heart muscle and therefore increases the force of heart contractions. Digoxin also slows electrical conduction between the atria and the ventricles of the heart and is useful in treating abnormally rapid atrial rhythms such as atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, and atrial tachycardia. (Abnormally rapid atrial rhythms can be caused by heart attacks, excessive thyroid hormones, alcoholism, infections, and many other conditions.) During rapid atrial rhythms, electrical signals from the atria cause rapid contractions of the ventricles. Rapid ventricular contractions are inefficient in pumping blood containing oxygen and nutrients to the body, causing symptoms of weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, and even chest pain. Digoxin alleviates these symptoms by blocking the electrical conduction between the atria and ventricles, thus slowing ventricular contractions.
- The FDA approved digoxin in 1975.
What brand names are available for digoxin?
Lanoxin, Lanoxin Pediatric
Is digoxin available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for digoxin?
What are the uses for digoxin?
- Digoxin is used for treating adults with mild to moderate congestive heart failure and for treating an atrial fibrillation, an abnormal heart rhythm.
- It also is used for increasing myocardial contractility in pediatric patients with heart failure.
What are the side effects of digoxin?
Common side effects include
Many digoxin side effects are dose dependent and happen when blood levels are over the narrow therapeutic range. Therefore, digoxin side effects can be avoided by keeping blood levels within the therapeutic level. Serious side effects associated with digoxin include
- heart block,
- rapid heartbeat, and
- slow heart rate.
Digoxin has also been associated with visual disturbance (blurred or yellow vision), abdominal pain, and breast enlargement. Patients with low blood potassium levels can develop digoxin toxicity even when digoxin levels are not considered elevated. Similarly, high calcium and low magnesium blood levels can increase digoxin toxicity and produce serious disturbances in heart rhythm.
Quick GuideHeart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
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