Although digitalis preparations have been in use for > 200 years, it is only within the last 2 decades that the central hemodynamic and neurohumoral effects occurring over several hours following intravenous administration of digoxin have been investigated in patients with congestive heart failure (CHF). Although digoxin has been shown to stimulate myocardial contractility in tissue preparations, its positive inotropic activity does not consistently translate into improvements in hemodynamic measurements in humans. Digoxin given intravenously results in increased cardiac index and decreased heart rate, left ventricular filling pressure, and right atrial pressure, as well as in acute attenuation of neurohumoral abnormalities, in patients with chronic CHF who have abnormal baseline hemodynamic measurements. Unlike other drugs with positive inotropic activity, however, digoxin does not influence hemodynamics in normal volunteers or in CHF patients in whom hemodynamics have been normalized with other therapies. These differing effects may be related to the drug's diverse peripheral vascular effects in CHF patients in whom vasodilation may occur in comparison with those that occur in normal subjects in whom the peripheral vasoconstrictor effects may prevent the inotropic effects of the drug from being translated into an increase in cardiac output. The hemodynamic effects of digoxin in patients with chronic CHF due primarily to diastolic dysfunction have not been fully investigated. Intravenous digoxin produces hemodynamic effects in patients with CHF associated with acute myocardial infarction, but these changes are small compared with those resulting from the administration of dobutamine. Digoxin does not appear to influence hemodynamic measurements in patients with right ventricular dysfunction unless concomitant left ventricular failure is present. In patients with chronic left ventricular dysfunction, the hemodynamic effects of intravenous digoxin and vasodilators are enhanced when these agents are given in combination.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine