Is Digoxin Dangerous?

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 used to be the mainstay of treatment in patients with newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation and many patients still take it. Well, digoxin got bumped by some newcomers for the treatment of atrial fib and now we know that was a good thing. In a recent California study of Kaiser patients, starting digoxin treatment in patients with newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation was linked with a doubled risk of death during the subsequent 8 months. Double!

There are several medications your doctor may choose from when you are diagnosed with atrial fib depending on your individual situation. Amiodarone, atenolol, carvedilol, metoprolol, diltiazem and digoxin are the most common meds used. Talk to your doctor if you are on digoxin and stay away from the one that doubles your mortality.

While not widely used anymore, digoxin was given to 13% of patients with a new diagnosis of atrial fib up until about 2009.

Investigators in this study found that patients who received digoxin had twice the mortality rate and that was true for women and men, and across all ages.

Not diggin’ that digoxin.

Dr O.

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