If you have heart disease, Digoxin is a medication that helps an injured or weakened heart work better to send blood through the body. It strengthens the force of the heart muscle's contractions and slows the heart rate.
Two common brands of digoxin are Lanoxin and Lanoxicaps. A variety called digitoxin is sold under the brand name Crystodigin.
Why Do I Need to Take Digoxin?
Digoxin is prescribed to treat:
How Should I Take Digoxin?
Digoxin is usually taken once a day, especially in the elderly and those with kidney problems. Try to take this medication at the same time every day. Follow the label directions on how often to take it. The time allowed between doses and how long you need to take it will depend on your condition. You may have to take this medication for many years, possibly for the rest of your life.
While taking this medication, your doctor may tell you to check your pulse daily. He or she will tell you how rapid your pulse should be. If your pulse is slower than recommended, contact your doctor about taking digoxin that day.
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory so your response to the drug can be watched.
Digoxin may cause drowsiness. Do not drive a car or use machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
What Are the Side Effects of Digoxin?
If you have any of the following side effects from digoxin, contact your doctor right away:
- Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
- Changes in vision, such as flashes or flickering of light, sensitivity to light, seeing things larger or smaller than they are, blurring, color changes (especially a yellow or green tint to your vision), and seeing halos or borders on objects
- Drowsiness, headache, confusion, depression, fatigue, and muscle weakness
- Irregular heartbeat or slow heart rate
These side effects could mean that your dose needs to be changed. Once you and your doctor have found the correct dose, you usually will not have side effects if you take digoxin exactly as prescribed.
Should I Be Concerned About Food and Drug Interactions With Digoxin?
Digoxin is often prescribed along with diuretics (water pills), an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), and a beta-blocker for the treatment of heart failure. If you have more side effects after taking your medications together, contact your doctor. You may need to change the times you are taking each medication.
Check with your doctor before taking the following over-the-counter medications, as they can interfere with the effects of digoxin: antacids; asthma drugs; cold, cough or sinus medicine; laxatives; medicines for diarrhea; or diet drugs.
Follow your doctor's dietary advice by limiting sodium in your daily diet to 2,000 mg or less per day. Talk to your doctor about how much potassium you should get.
Can Pregnant Women Take Digoxin?
Women on digoxin should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or become pregnant. Digoxin is classified as a pregnancy category "C" medicine, which means that it is unknown if the drug has any effect on pregnancy. It should be given only if the benefit to you outweighs the potential risk to the baby.
Can Children Take Digoxin?
The side effects of digoxin do not appear to be different in children. Parents should discuss the benefits and risk of having their child take digoxin with their child's doctor.
Can Elderly People Take Digoxin?
Elderly people on digoxin tend to have more frequent side effects. Generally, elderly people taking this drug will require a lower dose.