November 28, 2012

Atrial fibrillation drug under the microscope

doctor checks heart beatDigoxin, a drug used to treat heart disease, is associated with an increase in deaths in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), according to researchers.

A study of over 4,000 patients found that digoxin was associated with a 41 percent increase in deaths from any cause. This rise in deaths occurred regardless of gender or the presence of underlying heart failure.

Patients who are prescribed digoxin should not stop taking their meds

Our Senior Cardiac Nurse, Natasha Stewart, said: “Heart patients should not be too alarmed by this study as digoxin is not the primary treatment for atrial fibrillation in the UK.

“However, there are good reasons why some AF and heart failure patients are still taking digoxin, as it can help them to manage their condition.

“Before we jump to any conclusions about the dangers of the drug, we’d need to see further research into what might be causing these increased risks.  Patients who are prescribed digoxin should not stop taking their meds without discussing their concerns with their doctor.”

This research was published in The European Heart Journal.