Digoxin – Uses & Side Effects

Digoxin is derived from the leaves of a digitalis plant. Digoxin helps make the heart beat stronger and with a more regular rhythm.

Digoxin is used to treat heart failure.

Digoxin is also used to treat atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder of the atria (the upper chambers of the heart that allow blood to flow into the heart).

What should you know before taking digoxin?

You should not use digoxin if you are allergic to it, or if you have ventricular fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder of the ventricles, or lower chambers of the heart that allow blood to flow out of the heart).

To make sure digoxin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • A serious heart condition such as “sick sinus syndrome” or “AV block” (unless you have a pacemaker);
  • A heart attack;
  • Slow heartbeats that have caused you to faint;
  • Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome (sudden fast heartbeats);
  • Kidney disease;
  • An electrolyte imbalance (such as low levels of calcium, potassium, or magnesium in your blood);
  • A thyroid disorder; or
  • If you have recently been sick with vomiting or diarrhea.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant. It is not known whether digoxin will harm an unborn baby. However, having heart failure or atrial fibrillation during pregnancy may cause complications such as premature birth or low birth weight, or risk of death in both mother and baby. The benefit of treating heart problems with digoxin may outweigh any risks to the baby.

It may not be safe to breast-feed while using digoxin. Ask your doctor about any risk.

Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to digoxin: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;
  • Fast, slow, or uneven heart rate;
  • A light-headed feeling, like you might pass out;
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools;
  • Confusion, weakness, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior;
  • Breast swelling or tenderness;
  • Blurred vision, yellowed vision; or
  • (In babies or children) stomach pain, weight loss, growth delay, behavior changes.
  • Serious side effects may be more likely in older adults and those who are ill or debilitated.

Common digoxin side effects may include:

  • Nausea, diarrhea;
  • Feeling weak or dizzy;
  • Headache, weakness, anxiety, depression; or
  • Rash.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

What other drugs will affect digoxin?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Many drugs can interact with digoxin. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Keyword: digoxin.

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