What Does Digoxin Do?

If your healthcare provider has prescribed digoxin (Lanoxin®), you may be wondering what digoxin does, when you should take it, and how it works.
 
Digoxin is approved to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) and a type of irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation. It belongs to a group of drugs called cardiac glycosides and works by blocking a certain enzyme in the body called sodium-potassium ATPase.
 
Sodium-potassium ATPase controls the amount of sodium and potassium that enters the cells. Blocking sodium-potassium ATPase leads to an increase in the amount of calcium and potassium inside heart cells, which helps improve heart contractions and makes it more efficient at pumping blood. It also slows down the rate at which the heart beats.
 
Digoxin comes as a tablet, an injection, and an elixir (a liquid form taken by mouth). The tablets and elixir are usually taken by mouth once a day. Children may need to take digoxin more often than once a day.
 
(For more information on what this medication does, click Digoxin. This article provides a complete overview of this heart medication, including potential side effects, dosing tips, and general safety concerns to be aware of.)
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