Digoxin overdose

Digoxin Overdose and Its Symptoms

Digoxin, also known as lanoxin, is a drug used to treat people with certain cardiovascular conditions. It's used to increase the strength of heart contractions and to slow and regulate an abnormal heart rate. However, taking too much can be dangerous and life-threatening. An overdose of digoxin can cause a variety of symptoms, and it's important to be aware of these symptoms and to know when to seek medical attention.

What Are the Signs of Digoxin Overdose?

The amount of digoxin considered to be an overdose depends on a person's age, weight, and other medical factors. Generally, an overdose is defined as taking more than 0.75 milligrams per day or more than 10 milligrams within 2 weeks. The symptoms of a digoxin overdose usually come on quickly and may include:

  • Abnormal heart rhythm and palpitations
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Agitation and confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest

If someone experiencing these symptoms has taken too much digoxin, it's important to seek medical attention right away and to mention anything they’ve recently been taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.

Treatment for Digoxin Overdose

The treatment for a digoxin overdose will depend on how severe it is, as well as the person's age, weight, and other medical factors. Treatment may include:

  • Using activated charcoal to absorb any remaining digoxin in the system
  • Starting a medication called digoxin-specific antibody fragments (DSF) to interfere with the body's absorption of digoxin
  • Giving IV fluids or medications to slow the rate of digoxin absorption, stabilize heart rate, and counteract adverse effects on the heart muscle
  • Using temporary pacemakers to help correct abnormal heart rhythm

In severe cases, a procedure called hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis may be used. In this procedure, a machine called a dialyzer is used to filter the blood, removing any remaining digoxin from the body.

Prevention of a Digoxin Overdose

To prevent a digoxin overdose, it’s important to be aware of any symptoms that may be indicative of an overdose and to get medical attention immediately if needed. It’s also important to follow your doctor's instructions when using digoxin, including dosage instructions and drug interactions. Additionally, it’s important to always keep track of the amount of medication you're taking and be aware of any other medications, supplements, or alcohol that you may be taking.