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Digoxin intoxication: the relationship of clinical presentation to serum digoxin concentration

Digoxin intoxication: the relationship of clinical presentation to serum digoxin concentration

Journal of Clinical Investigation 49(12): 2377-2386

A radioimmunoassay for serum digoxin concentration has been used to study the interrelationships of circulating levels of the drug and various factors in the clinical setting in 48 hospitalized patients with cardiac rhythm disturbances due to digoxin intoxication. 131 patients on maintenance doses of digoxin without toxicity and 48 patients with equivocal evidence of digoxin excess were also studied and compared with the toxic group. Patients with cardiac rhythm disturbances due to digoxin intoxication tended to be older and to have diminished renal function compared with the nontoxic group; body weight, serum potassium concentration, underlying cardiac rhythm, and nature of cardiac disease were not significantly different for the groups as a whole. Despite comparable mean daily digoxin dosages, digoxin intoxicated patients had a mean serum digoxin concentration of 3.7 +/-1.0 (SD) ng/ml, while nontoxic patients had a mean level of 1.4 +/-0.7 ng/ml (P < 0.001), 90% of patients without evidence of toxicity had serum digoxin concentrations of 2.0 ng/ml or less, while 87% of the toxic group had levels above 2.0; the range of overlap between the two groups extended from 1.6 to 3.0 ng/ml. Patients with atrioventricular block as their principal toxic manifestation had a significantly lower mean serum digoxin concentration than those in whom ectopic impulse formation was the chief rhythm disturbance. Patients with equivocal evidence of digoxin excess had received comparable daily maintenance doses of digoxin but had a mean serum concentration of 1.9 +/-0.8 ng/ml, intermediate between those of the nontoxic (P < 0.005) and toxic (P < 0.001) groups. Renal function as judged by mean blood urea nitrogen concentration was also intermediate. The data indicate that knowledge of the serum digoxin concentration, weighed in the clinical context, is useful in the management of patients receiving this drug.

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Accession: 005162382

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PMID: 5480861

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