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Digoxin Side Effects

For the Consumer

Applies to digoxin: oral capsule liquid filled, oral elixir, oral solution, oral tablet

Other dosage forms:

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by digoxin. In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

Major Side Effects

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking digoxin:

More common:
  • Dizziness
  • fainting
  • 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
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • swelling of the feet and lower legs
  • troubled breathing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Minor Side Effects

Some of the side effects that can occur with digoxin may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

Less common:
  • Agitation or combativeness
  • anxiety
  • confusion
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • expressed fear of impending death
  • hallucinations
  • rash
  • vomiting
Incidence not known:
  • Blurred or loss of vision
  • disturbed color perception
  • double vision
  • halos around lights
  • headache
  • 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
  • weakness
  • weight loss

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to digoxin: compounding powder, injectable solution, oral capsule, oral elixir, oral tablet


Patients at increased risk include those with underlying renal, cardiopulmonary, or thyroid disease, electrolyte imbalances such as hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, or hypercalcemia, and patients greater than 65 years of age.[Ref]

Side effects generally have been dose-related and occurred more frequently when serum digoxin levels exceed 2.0 ng/mL. Cardiovascular (50%), gastrointestinal (25%), and CNS symptoms (25%) have been reported most often.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects reported in 25% of patients have included anorexia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and general abdominal pain. Rarely, intestinal ischemia or hemorrhagic necrosis, dysphagia, and esophageal dystonia have been reported.[Ref]

Cases of severe abdominal pain and documented intestinal ischemia have been reported in patients after hemodialysis. Contraction of intravascular volume combined with digoxin-induced splanchnic vasoconstriction may induce abdominal pain.[Ref]


Cardiovascular side effects have been reported the most frequently. These have included premature ventricular depolarizations (50%), AV nodal arrhythmias (50%), AV conduction disturbances (36%), wide complex tachycardia (less than 1%), paroxysmal atrial tachycardia with AV block, complete heart block, PR prolongation, and ST segment changes.[Ref]


The development of photopsia characterized by innumerable points of light in the peripheral visual fields or a decrease in visual acuity has been associated with therapeutic serum digitalis concentrations in the elderly. Digitalis-induced visual disturbances other than chromatopsia or disturbances of color vision may occur in elderly patients who have no other clinical manifestations of digitalis intoxication.

Digoxin-mediated inhibition of sodium-potassium ATPase influences normal uptake of extracellular potassium by Muller's cells and other retinal neurons and may result in decreased color vision.[Ref]

Ocular side effects have included chromatopsia, snowy or blurry vision, photopsia, and decreased visual acuity. Rarely, transient blindness has been reported. Decreased color vision has been reported.[Ref]

Nervous system

A 51-year-old man with ischemic cardiomyopathy complicated by congestive heart failure developed right trigeminal neuralgia associated with hyperalgesia between attacks. The pain resolved when digoxin was discontinued and reappeared upon rechallenge.[Ref]

Nervous system side effects reported in 25% of patients have included headache, dizziness, and weakness. At least one case of trigeminal neuralgia has been reported.[Ref]


A 74-year-old man with supraventricular tachycardia developed altered cognition, memory, and depression with a serum digoxin level of 0.9 ng/mL. Symptoms resolved when digoxin levels decreased to 0.5 ng/mL.[Ref]

Psychiatric side effects have included decreased cognition, memory, disorientation, emotional lability, and depression.[Ref]


Endocrine side effects have included increased (significant) serum estrogen, decreased serum luteinizing hormone, decreased (significant) serum testosterone, and gynecomastia.[Ref]

A study of 38 patients (20 postmenopausal women) who had taken digoxin for at least two years, revealed significantly decreased serum luteinizing hormone and testosterone levels and significantly increased serum estrogen levels relative to a control group of men and postmenopausal women. The study did not control for underlying disease and it is possible that the sex hormone alterations were associated with the underlying diseases rather than use of digoxin.[Ref]


A 77-year-old man with congestive heart failure developed a psoriasiform rash associated with a positive macrophage inhibition factor test to digoxin. The rash resolved upon discontinuation of the drug and reappeared on rechallenge.[Ref]

Hypersensitivity reactions have been reported rarely. At least one case of psoriasiform rash has been reported.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects have been reported rarely. These have included thrombocytopenia.[Ref]

A 60-year-old man with thyroid cancer and supraventricular tachycardia developed reversible thrombocytopenia during digoxin and heparin therapy. The thrombocytopenia resolved when digoxin alone was discontinued. The bone marrow examination and immunological studies were consistent with a digoxin-induced immune thrombocytopenia due to circulating immune complexes.[Ref]


Metabolic side effects have included hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, and hypercalcemia. Diabetes mellitus and glucose intolerance have been reported.[Ref]

Three patients with Type II diabetes who experienced greater antidiabetic control and significant reduction in requirements of hypoglycemic agents following discontinuation of digoxin has been reported. Rechallenge in one patient resulted in increased glucose levels and subsequent dosage increases of hypoglycemic agents.[Ref]


Dermatologic side effects have been reported rarely. These have included maculopapular rash and other nonspecific skin reactions.[Ref]


Other side effects have been reported rarely. At least one case of diaphoresis and malaise has been reported. At least one case of digoxin cachexia, fatigue, weight loss, and decreased appetite has been reported.[Ref]

A 48-year-old man with rheumatic mitral valve disease and atrial flutter/fibrillation developed profound diaphoresis and malaise associated with a serum digoxin level of 0.7 ng/mL. The symptoms resolved when digoxin was discontinued, and reappeared on rechallenge.

Cachexia, fatigue, and documented weight loss have been reported in rare cases. Appetites and weights improved after discontinuation of digoxin.[Ref]


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Not all side effects for digoxin may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

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