Treating Heart Failure with Digoxin

Digoxin, also called digitalis, helps an injured or weakened heart pump more efficiently. It strengthens the force of the heart muscle's contractions, helps restore a normal, steady heart rhythm, and improves blood circulation.

Digoxin is one of several medications used to treat the symptoms of heart failure. It may also be prescribed if you have atrial fibrillation (a common irregular heart rhythm).

Types of digoxin include:

  • Digoxin (Lanoxin, Lanoxicaps, Digitek)
  • Digitoxin (Crystodigin)

How Do I Take Digoxin?

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Digoxin is usually taken once a day. Try to take this drug at the same time every day. Follow the label directions on how often to take it. The time allowed between doses and how long you need to take it will depend on your condition. You may have to take this drug for a long time, possibly for the rest of your life.

What Are the Side Effects of Digoxin?

Possible side effects of taking digoxin include:

  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting
  • Changes in vision, such as flashes or flickering of light, sensitivity to light, seeing things larger or smaller than they are, blurring, color changes (yellow or green), and seeing halos or borders on objects
  • Drowsiness and fatigue
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Muscle weakness
  • Irregular heartbeat or slow heart rate

Contact your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms. Your dose may need to be changed. Once you and your doctor have determined the correct dose, you usually will not experience side effects if you take digoxin exactly as prescribed.

Also, contact your doctor if you have any other symptoms that cause concern.

Should I Avoid Certain Food or Medicine While Taking Digoxin?

When taking digoxin:

  • Digoxin is generally prescribed in combination with diuretics, an ACE inhibitor and a beta-blocker. If you experience an increase in side effects after taking your medications together, contact your doctor. You may need to change the times you are taking each medication.
  • If you are taking Questran, Questran Light, or Colestid, take it at least two hours after digoxin to prevent interactions.
  • Consult with your doctor before taking the following over- the-counter medications, as they can interfere with the effects of digoxin: antacids; asthma remedies; cold, cough or sinus medicine; laxatives, medicines for diarrhea; or diet medications.
  • Follow your doctor's dietary advice, which may include: following a low-sodium diet, taking a potassium supplement, or including high-potassium foods (such as bananas and orange juice) in your diet.

Read more on: heart disease, heart failure