Treatment for Heart Disease with Digoxin

If you have heart disease, digoxin is a medication that helps your heart work better to send blood through your body. It strengthens the heart muscle's contractions and slows your heart rate.

Two common brands are Lanoxicaps and Lanoxin. A variety called digitoxin is sold under the brand name Crystodigin.

Why Do I Need to Take It?

Digoxin is prescribed to treat:

How Should I Take It?

Usually once daily, especially for the elderly and those with kidney problems. Try to take it at the same time every day. Follow the label directions on how often to take it. The time between doses and how long you take it will depend on your condition.

You may have to take it for many years, possibly for the rest of your life.

While taking digoxin, your doctor may tell you to check your pulse every day. He’ll tell you how fast your pulse should be. If it’s slower than that, talk to your doctor about taking digoxin that day.

Keep all your appointments with your medical team so they can keep track of how you react to the drug.

Digoxin may cause drowsiness. Don’t drive a car or use machinery until you discover how this medicine affects you.

What Are the Side Effects?

If you have any of these, call your doctor right away:

These could mean your dose needs to be changed. Once you and your doctor have found the correct dose, you usually won’t have side effects as long as you take digoxin exactly as prescribed.

Should I Be Concerned About Food and Drug Interactions?

Digoxin is often prescribed along with diuretics (water pills), an ACE inhibitor or an angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB), and a beta-blocker for heart failure. If you have more side effects after taking your medications together, talk with your doctor. You may need to change the times you take each medication.

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If you are taking the cholesterol-lowering drugs colestipol (Colestid), Questran, or Questran Light (cholestyramine), take them at least 2 hours after you take digoxin.

Check with your doctor before taking the following over-the-counter medications, as they can interfere with the effects of digoxin:

Limit sodium to 2,000 milligrams per day. Talk to your doctor about how much potassium you should get.

Can Pregnant Women Take It?

Women on digoxin should tell their doctor if they are expecting or become pregnant. Digoxin is a pregnancy category "C" medicine, which means it’s 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.

Digoxin can be passed to a nursing baby through breast milk. What this does is not clear. If you’re a woman on digoxin who is planning to breastfeed, talk with your doctor.

Can Children Take It?

The side effects of digoxin look to be the same in kids. Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks of having your child take digoxin.

Can Elderly People Take It?

Those who do tend to have side effects more often. Generally, elderly people need a lower dose.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by James Beckerman, MD, FACC on October 17, 2016

Sources

SOURCES: 

MedlinePlus: "Digoxin Oral."

FamilyDoctor.org: "Digoxin: A Medicine for Heart Problems."

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