Digoxin is used to treat heart failure and a certain type of irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation. It works by helping the heart to maintain a strong, steady heartbeat. It strengthens the force of your heart beat but also slows the rate at which the heart pumps. It's 1 of a group of medicines known as cardiac glycosides. Read more about heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
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Sounds like 'di-jox-in'
Key points about digoxin
- Digoxin is used to treat heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
- Digoxin is also called Lanoxin®..
- Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
In Aotearoa New Zealand digoxin is available as tablets, in 2 strengths – 62.5 micrograms and 250 micrograms. It's also available as an oral liquid (taken by mouth) containing 50 micrograms in 1 ml and as an injection that can be given in hospital.
- The usual dose of digoxin is 62.5 to 125 micrograms once a day.
- Some people may need a higher dose of 250 micrograms once a day.
- When you first start taking it you may need to take a higher dose to begin with.
- Always take your digoxin exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much digoxin to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.
- Timing: Take digoxin at the same time each day, usually in the morning. Take each dose with food and a glass of water.
- Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Don't take double the dose.
- Oral liquid: If you're taking the oral liquid it's important to use the measuring pipette that comes with the liquid so you can measure the dose correctly.
Here are some things to know when you're taking digoxin. Other things may be important as well, so ask your healthcare provider what you should know about.
- Check your tablets: there are 2 strengths of digoxin tablets available – 62.5 micrograms (blue tablets) and 250 micrograms (white tablets). If your tablets look different to your last supply talk to your doctor or pharmacist about it.
- Driving: Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
- Other medicines: Digoxin interacts with some medicines, herbal supplements and rongoā Māori, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting digoxin and before starting any new products.
- Antacids: if you're taking antacids, take them 6 hours apart from digoxin as they can affect how the digoxin is absorbed.
- Blood tests: you may need blood tests to make sure you're taking the correct dose of digoxin, and to check your body salts and kidney function. Blood tests are important, especially if you have changes in your health or you start or stop other medicines.
- Signs that your dose may be too high: if you start being sick (vomiting), develop diarrhoea (runny poos), get blurring or other changes in your vision, or become very tired, you must contact your doctor straightaway. These are signs that the dose of digoxin may be too high for you.
- Keep taking digoxin every day. It may take several weeks to see the full benefit of digoxin. Treatment with digoxin is usually long-term. Don't stop taking digoxin suddenly; talk to your doctor or nurse before stopping.
- Pregnancy: don't stop taking your digoxin but tell your doctor if you become pregnant.
Like all medicines, digoxin can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.
|What should I do?
|Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.(external link)
The following links have more information on digoxin.
Credits: Healthify editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.
Reviewed by: Stephanie Yee, Pharmacist, Auckland.