Digoxin

Brand names of digoxin

  • Digitek
  • Lanoxicaps
  • Lanoxin
  • Novo-Digoxin
  • SK-Digoxin

Digoxin is a medicament that is prepared from the extracts of the leaves of digitalis lanata and is effective in treating heart failure. This medication enhance the power as well as vitality of the heart muscles while contracting by means of slowing down the actions of ATPase, an enzyme that regulates transport of calcium, potassium and sodium into the muscles of the heart. Calcium is responsible for regulating the force at which the heart muscles contract. Therefore, when the activity of ATPase is inhibited, it enhances the amount of calcium in the muscles of the heart and, consequently, augments the strength with which the heart muscles contract.

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In addition, digoxin also works to slow the conduction of electricity between the heart's ventricles and atria, making this drug helpful in the treatment of unusually fast rhythm of the atria, for instance, atrial flutter, atrial fibrillation, and atrial tachycardia. It is worth mentioning here that unusually fast rhythm of atria may be a result of heart attacks, alcoholism, too much thyroid hormone, infections as well as several other health conditions.

When there is rapid rhythm of the atria, electrical signals sent by the atria may result in faster ventricle contractions. The rapid contractions of the ventricles make the heart unproductive in pumping blood enclosing oxygen and nutriments to the different body parts, resulting in the development of symptoms like debility, dizziness, labored breathing and also chest pain. Digoxin works to provide relief from such symptoms by means of obstructing the conduction of electricity from the atria to the ventricles, thereby, inhibiting the contractions of ventricles. Digoxin was approved by the FDA for sale and use in the United States in 1975.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking digoxin

Like in the case of beginning treatment with any prescription drug, prior to taking digoxin, you need to inform your physician plus pharmacist whether you have allergic reactions to this medication, digitoxin or any additional drug. In addition, let your physician know about all the prescription and over-the-counter medicaments you are taking from before, particularly antibiotics, antacids, calcium supplements, diuretics (also called 'water pills'), corticosteroids, medications for thyroid, drugs for treating heart ailments and vitamins.

Before you use digoxin for the first time, notify your physician about your entire medical history, especially if you earlier had or now have heart arrhythmias, problems related to thyroid, any kidney ailment and/ or cancer. Women need to tell their physician if they are already pregnant or planning pregnancy. New mothers ought to inform their physician if they are breast feeding. In case any woman gets pregnant while undergoing therapy with digoxin, she ought to right away talk to her physician regarding what she should do in this situation.

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People who are already 65 years old or even older and intend to take digoxin for their condition should essentially consult their physician regarding the benefits and hazards of taking this drug at their age. In fact, elderly people should generally be given low dosages of this medication, as taking elevated doses may possibly result in grave side effects.

If you plan to take digoxin to cure your condition, you ought to know that this drug may possibly cause drowsiness. Therefore, you are advised against driving a vehicles or operating a machine - activities which require alertness, till you are aware of the medication's impact on your body and only take up these jobs when you are confident of performing them in a safe manner. Also remember that using alcohol while taking digoxin may possibly increase the lethargy caused by this drug.

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If you need to have a surgery, may be even a dental process, you need to tell your surgeon or practitioner of dentistry in advance that you are using digoxin.

Usage

Digoxin is used in the treatment of heart failure as well as atrial arrhythmias (also known as abnormal heart rhythm).

How to use digoxin

Digoxin is available in tablet as well as liquid forms and it is taken orally with a full glass (8oz) of water and preferably without food. It is advisable that you take this medication at round the similar time daily. This medication should be taken strictly as your physician has prescribed. It is also important that you follow the instructions on the prescription label carefully. Never take digoxin is excessive or lesser dosage or longer than what has been recommended.

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If you are taking the liquid form of digoxin, you need to measure your dosage using a specific spoon or cup made to measure liquid medications. Never use the ordinary table spoon to measure digoxin. In case you do not possess a measuring spoon or cup, request your pharmacist to make one available.

While undergoing treatment with digoxin you need to observe whether this drug is having any effect that is detrimental for your health. You are likely to require regular blood examinations while using digoxin. In addition, you may also require examining the functioning of the kidneys regularly. Hence, you should not skip any appointment with your physician or laboratory.

You need to continue using digoxin as per your physician's instructions even though you may feel better after some weeks of treatment with this drug. Ensure that you obtain a refill of your prescription prior to running out of the medicament completely.

Before discontinuing digoxin it is important to consult your physician. Some conditions endured by you may deteriorate further in case you stop taking this drug abruptly. It is advisable that you reduce the dosage of the medication slowly before discontinuing it.

How digoxin works

Digitalis medicaments, including digoxin, increase the force of heart contractions. By doing so, this medication aids in controlling the heart rate and also the pace of heartbeat.

Side effects

Serious:
Less common:

Possible interactions

Herbal medicines or minerals:
Specific herbal products and mineral supplements may interact with digoxin and, hence, avoid using them in conjunction. For instance, hawthorn as well as co-enzyme Q10 may have an impact on the manner in which your heart functions. Therefore, if you are planning to use any of these while you are already taking this drug or if a physician is considering prescribing digoxin to any of your close ones taking these herbs, tell this to the physician beforehand. In fact, co-enzyme Q10 may also have a serious interaction with aspirin. Soy products like tofu, milk and others enclose phytoestrogen and this has resulted in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) endorsed health claim for lowering the chances of developing heart ailments, provided they contain a minimum of 6.25 grams soy protein in every serving. While you are undergoing therapy with digoxin you need to ensure that the levels of magnesium and potassium in the bloodstream are maintained at usual range.
The herb St. John's wort seems to work to lessen the digoxin levels in the body by approximately 25 per cent. Such decrease in the level of digoxin may not only result in losing the benefits of using this medicament, but may also lead to an extremely grave medicinal interaction. Patients suffering from enhanced fluid retention (edema) owing to debility of the heart should avoid using nettle or couch grass. In addition, people using digoxin should also stay away from herbs like lily of the valley and squill or pheasant's eye. Although hawthorn (the Crataegus type) has been employed to treat heart failure, you should never use this herb in combination with medications for heart diseases, as scientists are yet to examine the results of using such a combination. Here is a word of warning: using intravenous calcium while taking digoxin may result in a deadly interaction.
Foods:
Before taking digoxin, you should consult your physician about consumption of foods that have rich potassium content. Remember, if you take digoxin with food, it will decrease the peak stage as well as the pace at which this medication gets into your body.
Beverages:
While taking digoxin, you need to be careful not to take any herb or beverage that might contain too much caffeine, such as tea, coffee and cola.
Tobacco smoking:
People using digoxin should avoid smoking tobacco, as nicotine has the aptitude to result in irritation in the muscles of the heart as well as make the patient susceptible to serious disturbances in the heart rhythm.
Marijuana smoking:
You need to strictly stay away from smoking marijuana while undergoing treatment with digoxin, because it may result in a number of adverse effects, including possible intensifying heart failure, alterations in electrocardiogram (ECG) readings, diminishing the efficacy of this drug and even puzzling interpretation of laboratory test reports.
Occurrence of unrelated illness:
People taking digoxin ought to know that unrelated ailments like vomiting or even diarrhea have the potential to change the effectiveness of this drug critically. Therefore, if you develop any new illnesses, even if they are not related to your existing condition, ensure that you tell your physician about it.

Discontinuation

It is possible that you may require taking digoxin for an indefinite period. It is advisable that you should never stop taking this medicament without talking to your physician.

Storage instructions

Digoxin should always be kept at normal room temperature and in a place free from heat and dampness.

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