Although digoxin (Lanoxin®) can be an effective treatment for many people with congestive heart failure (CHF) or atrial fibrillation, this drug may not be safe in certain cases. For example, before taking digoxin, make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have a history of an electrolyte imbalance.
An imbalance of certain blood electrolytes changes the way the body absorbs digoxin. Low blood potassium (hypokalemia) or magnesium levels (hypomagnesemia), or high calcium levels (hypercalcemia), may increase your risk for digoxin toxicity. Low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) can make digoxin ineffective.
To help ensure a safe treatment process, your healthcare provider will periodically check your electrolyte levels with a simple blood test during digoxin treatment. Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are sick and experience vomiting or diarrhea, as this may affect your blood electrolytes.
(Click Digoxin Precautions and Warnings for more information on potassium and digoxin. This article also describes other important safety concerns to be aware of before taking digoxin.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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