Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: June 2023 | Last updated: September 2023
How does digoxin work?
Digoxin is a type of medicine called a digitalis glycoside. Digoxin has specific effects on the muscular tissue of the middle layer of the wall of the heart. It works by increasing the force of your heartbeat while decreasing your heart rate. This improves circulation and reduces swelling in people with heart problems.1,2
Digoxin is available under the following brand names:2
What are the possible side effects?
Side effects can vary depending on the specific drug you are taking. The most common side effects of digoxin include:1
- Nausea or vomiting
Digoxin toxicity is a serious and potentially life-threatening side effect of digoxin. It may occur when you take too much of the drug at once. It can also occur when levels of the drug build up in your body for other reasons, like other medical problems you may have. Your risk of digoxin toxicity increases if you take digoxin and:3
- Have low potassium levels
- Have low magnesium levels
- Take other drugs like quinidine, flecainide, verapamil, and amiodaron
- Have kidney problems
Signs of digoxin toxicity include:3
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Vision changes, such as blind spots, blurred vision, changes in how colors look, or seeing spots
- Breathing problems when lying down
Contact your doctor right away if you have signs of digoxin toxicity.
These are not all the possible side effects of digoxin. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking digoxin. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking digoxin.
Other things to know
Your doctor will regularly check your blood levels during treatment with digoxin.1,3
Your doctor may prescribe you potassium supplements if you take digoxin and diuretics together.1,3
Before starting treatment with digoxin, tell your doctor if you have:1
- Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome
- A thyroid disorder
- Had a heart attack
- Kidney problems
- An electrolyte disorder
There is not enough data to know if digoxin is safe to take while pregnant. Before starting treatment with digoxin, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.1
Before beginning treatment for heart failure, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you take. This includes over-the-counter drugs.