Digoxin for Fast Heart Rates
How It Works
Digoxin helps slow the heart rate by
reducing the number of electrical impulses that pass through (but do not
originate in) the
atrioventricular (AV) node into the lower heart
Digoxin can also strengthen ventricular
contractions so that the heart is able to pump more blood with each
Why It Is Used
Digoxin slows heart rate and
strengthens heart contractions in people who have a fast heart rate. Digoxin
can also be used to treat heart failure.
How Well It Works
Digoxin may improve symptoms by
slowing the heart rate and strengthening the heart contractions in people who
heart failure. Digoxin is often not very effective for
preventing supraventricular tachycardia.1 Beta-blockers and calcium channel
blockers are most often tried first.
High doses may cause digoxin poisoning.
Symptoms of digoxin poisoning include:
- Visual disturbances.
- Slow (bradycardia) or
rapid (tachycardia) heart rates.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
- Regular blood tests may be needed while you are
taking digoxin, to monitor levels of the drug to prevent
- Digoxin does not lower blood pressure as do other drugs
used to treat fast heart rates.
- Digoxin does not prevent
recurrences of fast heart rates.
- Beta-blockers or calcium channel
blockers work better to control heart rate during exercise.
doses of digoxin must be used in people who have kidney
- Other medicines may affect the level of digoxin in the
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Drugs for cardiac arrhythmias (2007). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 5(58): 51-58.