Available by prescription only, digoxin (Lanoxin®) is used to treat congestive heart failure (CHF) and a type of irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation. Many people wonder about the actions of digoxin in the body, specifically how it works to treat these heart conditions.
This medication works by blocking a specific enzyme in the body (known as sodium-potassium ATPase). This enzyme controls the amount of sodium and potassium that enters the cells. Blocking this enzyme increases the amount of calcium and potassium inside heart cells. This helps the heart contract more forcefully with each heartbeat, making it more efficient at pumping blood throughout the body. It also slows down the rate at which the heart beats.
(To learn more about the mechanism of action for this drug, click Digoxin. This article offers a complete overview of this drug, including how it works to make the heart more efficient, general safety precautions to be aware of, and tips for taking the drug.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed February 18, 2011.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed February 18, 2011.
Digoxin. Drug Facts and Comparisons. Drug Facts and Comparisons 4.0 [online]. 2011. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed February 18, 2011.
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