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Monitoring digoxin therapy. The use of plasma digoxin concentration measurements in the diagnosis of digoxin toxicity



Monitoring digoxin therapy. The use of plasma digoxin concentration measurements in the diagnosis of digoxin toxicity



Quarterly Journal of Medicine 47(186): 111-122



The usefulness of measuring plasma digoxin concentrations in the diagnosis of digoxin toxicity has been assessed in 83 in-patients. The mean plasma digoxin concentration in clinically toxic patients was significantly higher than the mean concentration in non-toxic patients. The overlap between the groups, however, was extensive and could partly be accounted for by hypokalaemia in those toxic patients whose plasma digoxin concentration was less than 3 ng/ml. There was, in addition, a higher incidence of hyperkalaemia, without obvious cause, in toxic patients than in non-toxic patients. Consideration of the incidence of various non-cardiac factors, specifically plasma potassium concentration greater than 5.0 mmol/l, plasma creatinine concentration greater than 150 mumol/l, daily maintenance dose greater than 6 microgram/kg, and age greater than 60 years, led to the development of guidelines to aid in the diagnosis of digoxin toxicity. Patients with plasma digoxin concentration greater than 3 ng/ml or with hypokalaemia should be considered probably toxic and those with plasma digoxin concentration greater than or equal to 3 ng/ml in the absence of hypokalaemia should only be considered toxic if they have at least two of the non-cardiac factors outlined above. Plasma digoxin concentrations could not be predicted with more than 31 per cent certainty by considering the magnitude of those non-cardiac factors.

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Accession: 005921250

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PMID: 684152


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