Other names: Lanoxin

Digoxin is a drug, which is used to treat patients with irregular heart rhythms and heart failure. The Digoxin test is used to measure the concentration of Digoxin in the blood and to monitor the progress of the treatment. Digoxin is used to ease symptoms of heart failure and improve circulation around the body; heart failure affects the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body. Digoxin is also used to control heart rhythms; it is not a cure for heart failure or abnormal heart rhythms but it helps to regulate and ease the symptoms.

Why is the test used?

The test is used to measure the amount of Digoxin in the blood; the levels need to be monitored closely because there is a small target range and elevated levels can cause symptoms associated with toxicity, which include dizziness, vomiting, diarrhoea, blurred vision and breathing difficulties. The test will be repeated on a regular basis to ensure the dose is correct and to help the doctor monitor the patient’s condition.

How is the test done?

The test is done by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the arm; a needle in inserted into a vein and the blood and drawn out and collected in a syringe. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, labelled and sent away to the laboratory for evaluation. The timing of the test is very important; the test should be carried out around 8 hours after the patient had their last dose of Digoxin; in most cases the test will be done just prior to the patient’s next dose.

What do the test results mean?

The target range for patients with heart failure is 0.5-2.0 micrograms/litre and the target range for patients with abnormal heart rhythms is 1.5-2.0 micrograms/litre. The results of the test should confirm that the levels of Digoxin in the blood are in this target range; if levels are too high, this may contribute to toxicity and if they are too low, the drug may not be having the effect it should. Every patient is different and the doctor will consider the test result alongside their medical history and general health; if they have no symptoms and the levels only appear to be very slightly higher than the target range, they may leave the dose as it is.

Many types of medication, including over the counter drugs, can affect the result of the Digoxin test; the doctor will ask about any medications the patient is taking to ensure they take this into consideration when analysing the test results.

Specific Blood Tests

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