is digoxin testing?
A digoxin test is a blood test that your doctor can use to
determine the level of the medication digoxin in your
blood. Digoxin is a drug that contains cardiac glycosides. People take it to
treat heart failure and irregular heartbeats. Digoxin is available in oral
form. Your body absorbs it, and it then travels to your body’s tissues,
especially your heart, kidney, and liver.
Your doctor performs digoxin testing to make sure that you
aren’t receiving too much or too little of the drug. Your doctor should monitor
the level of digoxin in your blood because the drug has a narrow safe range.
is a digoxin test performed?
the active ingredient in digoxin, is a potentially poisonous chemical if you
take it in large amounts or over a long period in incorrect doses. It’s
important for your doctor to check the amount of digoxin in your blood
regularly while you’re taking the drug. Young children and older adults are at
an especially high risk for toxicity,
or digoxin overdose.
It’s also important for your doctor to monitor the levels of
digoxin in your system because the symptoms of digoxin overdose can be similar
to the symptoms of the heart condition that caused you to need the drug in the
Your doctor will likely order several digoxin tests when you
first start using the drug to establish the appropriate dose. You doctor should
continue to order the tests at regular intervals for as long as you’re taking
the drug. They should also order the tests if they suspect you’re receiving too
much or too little of the medication.
If the level of digoxin in your system is too low, you may
experience the symptoms of heart failure. These symptoms include:
- shortness of breath
- edema, or swelling in your hands and feet
If the level of the drug in your system is too high, you may
have symptoms of an overdose. These typically include:
- seeing yellow or green halos around objects
- difficulty breathing
- irregular heartbeats
- abdominal pain
is a digoxin test performed?
Your doctor will check your levels of digoxin by testing a
sample of your blood. They’ll probably ask you to go to an outpatient clinical
laboratory to give a blood sample. The healthcare provider at the lab will draw
blood from your arm or hand with a needle.
Tell your doctor about all medications and supplements you’re
taking in addition to digoxin. This includes medications that don’t need a
prescription. Taking digoxin within six to 12 hours before your test can also
affect your result. Some prescription, over-the-counter, and supplemental drugs
can affect the level of digoxin in your body, making it either too high or too
low. These include:
- antifungal medications
- St. John’s wort
- certain blood pressure medications
- anti-inflammatory medications, such as
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Ask your doctor if you should stop taking any medications
before your test. It may be helpful to write down the time you took your
digoxin and the dose so you can share that information with your doctor. Your
doctor will often check your blood chemistry in addition to your digoxin level.
risks are associated with digoxin tests?
The risks of a blood draw are low. Some people experience
mild pain or dizziness while having their blood sample taken.
After the test, the puncture site may have:
- a bruise
- slight bleeding
- an infection
- a hematoma,
or a blood-filled bump under your skin
do the test results mean?
If you’re receiving treatment for heart failure, the normal
level of digoxin is between 0.5 and 2.0 nanograms of medication per
milliliter of blood (ng/ml). If you’re being treated for a heart arrhythmia,
the normal level of the drug is between 1.5
and 2.5 ng/ml. If your tests results fall outside of the normal range, your
doctor will adjust your digoxin dose accordingly.
Most people find that their symptoms improve when their
digoxin levels stay within these ranges. Your doctor will adjust the dose if
your symptoms don’t improve, they’re getting worse, or you’re experiencing
adverse side effects.
Though results can vary, the levels of toxic concentration
are generally anything greater than 4.0
ng/mL. This level of digoxin in the blood can be life-threatening. However,
results can vary depending on your sex, health history, the test method, and
your test results don’t fall within the therapeutic range but you aren’t
experiencing symptoms, your doctor will determine if they need to adjust your
dose. Your doctor may ask you to take additional digoxin tests to determine the
exact level of digoxin in your blood and the next treatment step.