Digoxin is a cardiac glycoside that can help a weakened heart to function properly. Digoxin increases the strength of the heart muscle, helps to maintain a normal heart rhythm, and helps to remove excess water from the body. Digoxin can relieve symptoms of congestive heart failure, a condition that reduces the ability of the heart to pump enough blood through the body.
These symptoms include swelling of the feet and legs, difficulty breathing, and extreme tiredness or weakness. It can also help to regulate heart rhythm problems. Generic digoxin tablets are available, but not generic digoxin capsules. What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions: heart disease, heart rhythm disorders such as slow heart rate or heart block, sick sinus syndrome, ventricular arrhythmias, Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, or Adams-Stokes syndrome, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, over- or under-active thyroid, recent heart attack, too much calcium, potassium, or magnesium in the body, an unusual or allergic reaction to digoxin, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives, pregnant or trying to get pregnant and breast-feeding. How should I take this medicine?
Take digoxin tablets or capsules by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Swallow the tablets or capsules with a drink of water. It is best to take digoxin on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before, or 2 hours after meals. Take your doses at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed. Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed. Do not RUNNING HEAD: ANTIDYSRHYTHMIC DRUGS 3 administer adult preparations to children.
Elderly patients over 65 years old may have a stronger reaction to this medicine and may need smaller doses. What if I miss a dose? If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can (if you only take one dose a day, not more than 12 hours since your dose was due). If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
Which drugs may interact with digoxin? Acarbose, agents used to treat cancer, alprazolam, diazepam, amphotericin B, antacids, barbiturate medicines for inducing sleep or treating seizures (convulsions), beta blockers, often used for high blood pressure or heart problems, calcium, magnesium, or potassium salts, captopril, certain medicines used to decrease cholesterol (cholestyramine, colestipol, atorvastatin, fluvastatin, simvastatin),clarithromycin or erythromycin, cyclosporine, diet pills (stimulants) or drugs used to control weight, diltiazem, herbal products such as flaxseed, ginger, ginseng, hawthorn, St. John’s wort, hormones such as prednisone or cortisone.
Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines you are taking, including non-prescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products.
Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines. What should I watch for while taking digoxin? Visit your prescriber or health care professional for regular checks on your progress. Do not stop taking your digoxin without your prescriber’s advice, even if you feel better. Do not change the brand you RUNNING HEAD: ANTIDYSRHYTHMIC DRUGS 4 are taking, other brands may affect you differently.
Check your heart rate (pulse) and blood pressure regularly while you are taking digoxin. Ask your prescriber or health care professional what your heart rate and blood pressure should be, and when you should contact him or her. Your prescriber or health care professional also may schedule regular blood tests and electrocardiograms to check your progress. Digoxin tablets are easily confused with other look-alike tablets. This can have serious consequences. If you take other tablets that look similar, ask your pharmacist how to avoid mix-ups.
Watch your diet. Less digoxin may be absorbed from the stomach if you have a diet high in bran fiber. If you are going to have surgery, tell your prescriber or health care professional that you are taking digoxin. Do not take antacids, or treat yourself with non-prescription medicines for pain, allergies, coughs or colds, without advice from your prescriber or health care professional. You will be able to take some of these medicines if you space doses several hours apart.
What side effects may I notice from taking digoxin? Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible: anxiousness or nervousness, changes in color vision (more yellow color), blurred vision, eyes sensitive to light, light flashes, or halos around bright lights, changes in behavior, mood, or mental ability, chest pain or palpitations, confusion, diarrhea, or constipation, dizziness or drowsiness, fainting spells, fast heartbeat (more likely in children), headache, irregular, slow heartbeat (less than 50 beats per minute), loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, skin rash or itching, stomach pain, tingling or numbness in the hands RUNNING HEAD:
ANTIDYSRHYTHMIC DRUGS 5 or feet, unusual bruising, or pinpoint red spots on the skin, weakness or tiredness. Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or Health care professional if they continue or are bothersome): breast enlargement in men and women, sexual problems such as impotence. Where can I keep my medicine? Keep out of the reach of children in a container that small children cannot open. Store at room temperature between 15 and 25 degrees C (59 and 77 degrees F). Protect from light. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.