5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Take Digoxin Any More

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Digoxin has been used for the treatment of atrial fibrillation and heart failure since the 70’s. Brand names of Digoxin include Lanoxin and Digitek and all work by inhibiting the sodium/potassium ATPase pump in heart cells which leads to increased contractility (squeeze).

However, there are better options for treatment and new reasons for concern about digoxin, so here are five reasons to talk to your doctor about a switch:

  1. The role of digoxin for rate control in patients with atrial fibrillation has been limited due to its relative lack of efficacy—it isn’t as effective compared to other treatments.
  1. Studies show a possibility of an increase in mortality in patients without heart failure who take digoxin for atrial fibrillation.
  1. In patients treated with digoxin for atrial fibrillation, there was nearly a 25 percent increase in all-cause mortality.
  1. New recommendations suggest limiting the use of digoxin for atrial fibrillation to only patients in whom beta blockers  and calcium channel blockers have not achieved rate control and who are not considered candidates for other procedures to treat atrial fib (ablation or surgical Maze procedure).
  1. Beta blockers (metoprolol, atenolol) and/or calcium channel blockers (diltiazem) work better for rate control than digoxin and don’t carry the potential risk of higher mortality.

Dr O.

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