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- 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 are the uses for digoxin?
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
What is the dosage for digoxin?
- Digoxin may be taken with or without food.
- Digoxin primarily is eliminated by the kidneys; therefore, the dose of digoxin should be reduced in patients with kidney dysfunction.
- Digoxin blood levels are used for adjusting doses in order to avoid toxicity.
- The usual starting dose is 0.0625-0.25 mg daily depending on age and kidney function.
- The dose may be increased every two weeks to achieve the desired response.
- The usual maintenance dose is 0.125 to 0.5 mg per day.
Which drugs or supplements interact with digoxin?
- Drugs such as gentamicin, tetracycline, ranolazine (Ranexa), verapamil (Calan, Verelan, Verelan PM, Isoptin, Isoptin SR, Covera-HS), quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinide), amiodarone (Cordarone), indomethacin (Indocin, Indocin-SR), alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR, Niravam), spironolactone (Aldactone), and itraconazole (Sporanox) can increase digoxin levels and the risk of toxicity. The co-administration of digoxin and beta-blockers (for example propranolol [Inderal, Inderal LA]) or calcium channel blockers or CCBs (for example, verapamil), which also reduce heart rate, can cause serious heart rate slowing.
- Diuretic-induced (for example, by furosemide [Lasix]) reduction in blood potassium or magnesium levels may predispose patients to digoxin-induced abnormal heart rhythms.
- Saquinavir (Invirase) and ritonavir (Norvir) increase the amount of digoxin in the body and may cause digoxin toxicity.
- Mirabegron (Mybetriq) increases digoxin blood levels. The lowest dose of digoxin should be used if by people who are also using mirabegron.
- Omeprazole (Prilosec) and other drugs that reduce stomach acidity may increase blood levels of digoxin.
Is digoxin safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- There are no adequate studies in pregnant women.
- Digoxin in secreted in breast milk at concentrations similar to concentrations in the mothers blood. However, the total amount of digoxin that will be absorbed from breast milk by the infant may not be enough to cause effects. Caution should be exercised by nursing mothers who are taking digoxin.
What else should I know about digoxin?
What preparations of digoxin are available?
- Tablets: 0.0625, 0.125, 0.1875, and 0.25 mg; Elixir: 0.05 mg/ml.
- Injectable Solution: 0.1 and 0.25 mg/ml.
How should I keep digoxin stored?
Digoxin should be stored at room temperature, 15 C and 30 C) (59 F and 86 F) and protected from light.
Digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxin Pediatric) is used in the treatment of congestive heart failure and abnormally rapid atrial rhythms (atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, atrial tachycardia). Drug interactions include calcium channel blockers, beta blockers, diuretics, and others. Common side effects include
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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