What Is Digoxin Used For?

Using Digoxin for Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (or sometimes just "afib" for short) is the most common type of abnormal heart rhythm (or arrhythmia). It occurs when the electrical system that controls the heartbeat is no longer working properly. During afib, the two upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat at a fast and irregular rate, out of rhythm with the two lower heart chambers (the ventricles).
There are different types of atrial fibrillation. In some types, atrial fibrillation episodes come and go, occurring only occasionally. In other types, afib is an ongoing problem and the heart rhythm is always abnormal (see Types of Atrial Fibrillation).
Atrial fibrillation symptoms may vary from person to person. Some people may not experience any symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include:
  • Feelings of a racing or pounding heart (heart palpitations)
  • Feeling like your heart is fluttering
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath.
(Click Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation for more information about afib symptoms.)
Although afib itself isn't a life-threatening problem, if left untreated, it can cause serious complications, such as:
(Click Atrial Fibrillation Complications for more information about the potential complications of afib.)
While atrial fibrillation is rarely cured, it can often be managed with proper treatment. The type of atrial fibrillation treatment your healthcare provider recommends will depend on a variety of factors, including:
  • How long you have had afib
  • Whether your afib occurs occasionally or is chronic
  • The severity of your symptoms
  • The underlying cause.
Treatment may consist of one or a combination of medications, lifestyle and dietary changes, or procedures to reset the rhythm of the heart (electrical cardioversion). The goals of treatment often include:
  • Returning the heartbeat to a normal rhythm
  • Controlling the heart rate
  • Preventing the formation of unwanted blood clots
  • Treating any underlying health problems.
Digoxin is approved to treat chronic atrial fibrillation by slowing down and controlling the heart rate. It does not cure atrial fibrillation.
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