Digoxin for mitral valve regurgitation

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Digoxin for mitral valve regurgitation


Generic NameBrand Name
digoxin Lanoxin

Digoxin is used to treat mitral valve regurgitation when atrial fibrillation is present or when there are symptoms of heart failure due to left ventricle dysfunction.

How It Works

For atrial fibrillation, digoxin helps slow the heart rate by blocking the number of electrical impulses that pass through the AV node into the lower heart chambers (ventricles).

For left ventricle dysfunction, digoxin slows and strengthens heart contractions, enabling the heart to pump more blood with each beat. It improves heart muscle function by affecting the natural electrical impulses that stimulate the heartbeat.

Why It Is Used

Digoxin is used in mitral valve regurgitation when atrial fibrillation is present or when the left ventricle does not pump well. Digoxin is a medicine you might take if you have heart failure.

How Well It Works

Digoxin is effective for those with mitral valve regurgitation. It can:

  • Slow the heart rate.
  • Strengthen heart contractions in people who have the symptoms of heart failure.

Side Effects

High doses of digoxin may cause confusion, nausea, loss of appetite, and visual disturbances. This condition is called digoxin toxicity. Slow heart rates (bradycardias) or rapid heart rates (tachycardias) can occur in people who may be taking too much of the medicine or in people who are also taking a diuretic that may cause potassium or magnesium levels to drop.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

  • Regular blood tests to monitor digoxin levels may be needed to prevent poisoning.
  • Digoxin does not lower blood pressure as do some other drugs used to treat atrial fibrillation.
  • Digoxin does not prevent recurrences of atrial fibrillation.
  • Digoxin does not control heart rate very well during exercise. Beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers may work better for this purpose.
  • Smaller doses of digoxin must be used in people who have kidney problems.
  • Other medicines may affect the level of digoxin in the blood.
  • Some forms of rapid heartbeat, such as found in Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, cannot be treated with digoxin.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Donald Sproule, MD, CM, CCFP, FCFP - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer George Philippides, MD - Cardiology
Last Revised May 17, 2010

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