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  • digoxin is a cardiac glycoside used in the treatment of most types of cardiac failure and supraventricular dysrhythmias.


  • 65 - 75% of oral digoxin is absorbed;
  • Absorption may be reduced by neomycin, some resins, antidiarrhoeal agents containing pectin and kaolin, and non-absorbable antacids.
  • Absorption is close to complete within two hours.
  • 25% is protein bound in blood stream.
  • High volume of distribution, i.e. only 1% of body stores is found in plasma:
    • 3.5-6.0L/kg in premature infants
    • 8.0-16.3L/kg in infants 2-24 months
    • 5-7.5L/kg in adults
  • Concentration in cardiac muscle is 30 x plasma concentration.
  • Is not significantly metabolised.
  • 85% excreted in urine.
  • T 1/2 = 30 hours if normal renal function.
  • T 1/2 may be decreased (e.g. 13 hours) in overdose.
  • Drugs such as quinidine can double the serum digoxin levels.


direct action on heart - inhibition of Na /K /ATPase causing:

  • (i) elevation of intracellular Na concentration which competes with calcium for efflux at internal membranes, thus, less calcium is transported out of the cell and more is available to activate contractile sites, thereby increasing contractility;
  • (ii) in high concentrations, reduces the resting potential and augments rate of diastolic depolarisation, and thus, increases rhythmicity and ectopic impulse activity;
  • (iii) the lowering of resting potential is associated with a reduced rate of rise of the action potential causing slower conduction velocity, and thus is conducive to causing re-entry;
  • (iv) in extreme digoxin toxicity, the increased efflux of K from cells is sufficient to cause significant hyperkalaemia;

vagal enhancement via central action

  • prolongation of the functional refractory period of AV node, atrial and ventricular muscle;
  • slowing of sinus rate;

other cardiovascular actions:

  • peripheral venous and arterial vasoconstriction;
  • reflex peripheral vasodilatation in CCF due to withdrawal of sympathetic constrictor action;
digoxin.txt · Last modified: 2013/12/20 02:13 by

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