Digoxin

Sounds like 'di-JOKS-in'

Easy-to-read medicine information about digoxin – what it is, how to take it safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as cardiac glycosides
  • Lanoxin
  • Lanoxin PG

What is digoxin?

  • Digoxin is used to treat heart failure and a certain type of irregular heart beat called atrial fibrillation. Read more about heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
  • It works by affecting certain chemicals (sodium and potassium) in the heart cells, and in this way helps the heart to maintain a strong, steady heartbeat. It strengths the force of your heart beat.
  • It is one of a group of medicines known as cardiac glycosides.

Dose

  • The usual dose of digoxin is 62.5 micrograms to 125 micrograms once a day.
  • Some patients may require a higher dose of 250 micrograms once a day.
  • Always take your digoxin exactly as your doctor has told you.
  • The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much digoxin to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.

How to take digoxin

  • Take digoxin at the same time each day, usually in the morning.
  • You can take digoxin with or without food. If it causes an upset stomach, it may help to take it with food. 
  • Limit or avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking digoxin.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day.
  • But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
  • Keep taking digoxin every day. It may take several weeks to see the full benefit of digoxin. Treatment with digoxin is usually long-term.
  • Do not stop taking digoxin suddenly; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, digoxin can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Try taking digoxin with food.
  • Feeling dizzy, weak or tired
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Allergic reaction including any skin rashes, itching, blisters, peeling skin, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or have problems breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.
  • Signs that your digoxin dose may be too high for you such as vomiting, diarrhoea (loose stools), blurred vision, or yellow vision, dizziness.   
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.

Interactions

Digoxin can be affected by a number of other medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets:

Lanoxin
Lanoxin PG

 

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist NZ. Reviewed By: Dr J Bycroft. Health Navigator NZ