The End of the Digoxin Era?
Keywords:digitalis, digoxin, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, mortality, proarrhythmia, digoxin toxicity
Digoxin is one of the oldest of cardiovascular drugs which is still frequently used, both in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and patients with heart failure with or without AF. The use of digoxin preceded the era of evidence based medicine. However, over the recent past, there has been growing evidence disputing and challenging the safety and efficacy of digoxin, while evidence has accumulated that a plethora of other therapies for both heart failure and atrial tachyarrhythmias has proven more effective and safe. Nevertheless, digoxin still retains its role, albeit limited, in the current era, but most recent evidence has cast significant doubts about its safety. Thus, its role remains controversial and the drug should be reserved for specific patients and clinical scenarios, with careful monitoring of its serum concentration due to its narrow therapeutic and toxic ranges, maintaining it <0.8 ng/mL, with additional monitoring of serum electrolytes and renal function to avoid potential confounders that may enhance the proarrhythmic risk and susceptibility to digoxin toxicity.
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