Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Oct 6, 2019.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Lanoxin Pediatric
Pharmacologic Class: Cardiac Glycoside
Chemical Class: Digitalis Glycoside
Uses for digoxin
Digoxin injection is given in combination with a diuretic (water pill) and an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor to treat heart failure in adults and children. It is also used to treat adults with atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm problem).
Digoxin belongs to the class of medicines called cardiac glycosides. It is used to improve the strength and efficiency of the heart, or to control the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. This leads to better blood circulation and reduced swelling of the hands and ankles in patients with heart problems.
Digoxin is to be given only by or under the direct supervision of a doctor.
Before using digoxin
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For digoxin, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to digoxin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of digoxin injection to treat atrial fibrillation in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of digoxin injection in children with heart failure. However, infants are more likely to be very sensitive to the effects of digoxin injection which may require an individual dose for infants receiving digoxin injection.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of digoxin injection in the elderly. However, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related kidney or heart problems which may require caution and an adjustment in the dose for patients receiving digoxin injection.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are receiving digoxin, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using digoxin with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Amtolmetin Guacil
- Chan Su
- Choline Salicylate
- Flufenamic Acid
- Isavuconazonium Sulfate
- Lily of the Valley
- Mefenamic Acid
- Niflumic Acid
- Nimesulide Beta Cyclodextrin
- Pheasant's Eye
- Salicylic Acid
- Sodium Salicylate
- Tiaprofenic Acid
- Tolfenamic Acid
Using digoxin with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Cascara Sagrada
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of digoxin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- AV block (type of abnormal heart rhythm), with no pacemaker or
- Heart disease (eg, amyloid heart disease, constrictive pericarditis, cor pulmonale, hypertrophic or restrictive cardiomyopathy) or
- Hypercalcemia (high calcium in the blood) or
- Hypokalemia (low potassium in the blood) or
- Hypomagnesemia (low magnesium in the blood) or
- Sick sinus syndrome (type of abnormal heart rhythm), with no pacemaker or
- Wolff-Parkinson-white syndrome (heart rhythm problem)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
- Blood vessel disease (eg, arteriovenous shunt) or
- Diarrhea, chronic or
- Hypocalcemia (low calcium in the blood) or
- Hypoxia (low oxygen in the blood) or
- Thyroid disease—Use with caution. Patients with these conditions may be less sensitive or resistant to the effects of digoxin injection.
- Electrical cardioversion (a medical procedure)—Dose of digoxin injection may be reduced 1 to 2 days prior to electrical cardioversion of atrial fibrillation to avoid worsening of the condition.
- Heart attack—Use of digoxin is not recommended in patients with this condition.
- Kidney disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal from the body.
- Ventricular fibrillation (heart rhythm problem)—Should not be used in patients with this condition.
Proper use of digoxin
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you digoxin in a hospital. Digoxin is usually given as a shot into a muscle or into a vein.
Your doctor may give you a few doses of digoxin until your condition improves, and then you may be switched to an oral medicine that works the same way. If you have any concerns about this, talk to your doctor.
Precautions while using digoxin
It is very important that your doctor check your progress closely while you are receiving digoxin to see if it is working properly and to allow for a change in the dose. Blood tests may be needed to check for any unwanted effects. Your doctor may also want you to monitor and record your blood pressure and heart rate daily.
Watch for signs and symptoms of overdose while you are receiving digoxin. The amount of digoxin needed to help most people is very close to the amount that could cause serious problems from overdose. Some early warning signs of overdose are loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or problems in seeing. Other signs of overdose are changes in the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat (becoming irregular or slow), palpitations (feeling of pounding in the chest), or fainting. In infants and small children, the earliest signs of overdose are changes in the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. Children may not show the other symptoms as soon as adults.
Your doctor may want you to carry a medical identification card or bracelet stating that you are receiving digoxin.
Before having any tests, tell your doctor that you are using digoxin. Digoxin may affect the results of certain medical tests.
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal (eg, St. John's wort) or vitamin supplements.
Digoxin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
- slow heartbeat
- Black, tarry stools
- bleeding gums
- blood in the urine or stools
- bloody vomit
- pinpoint red spots on the skin
- rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
- severe stomach pain
- unusual bleeding or bruising
Incidence not known
- Chest pain or discomfort
- shortness of breath
- swelling of the feet and lower legs
- troubled breathing
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
Symptoms of overdose
- Abdominal or stomach pain
- general feeling of discomfort or illness
- green-yellow color disturbances
- halos around lights
- loss of appetite
- numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
- weakness or heaviness of the legs
- weight loss
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Agitation or combativeness
- expressed fear of impending death
Incidence not known
- Blurred or loss of vision
- double vision
- lack of feeling or emotion
- loss of appetite
- night blindness
- overbright appearance of lights
- swelling of the breasts or breast soreness in both females and males
- tunnel vision
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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