Digoxin therapy in chronic heart failure

Mihai Gheorghiade*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Digitalis has been used for more than 250 years, but its role in the treatment of chronic heart failure has been intensively investigated only during the past two decades. Digoxin increases cardiac output both at rest and during exercise, alone or in combination with ACE inhibitors, and these hemodynamic effects are sustained during chronic therapy. A daily dose of digoxin that achieves a serum concentration of approximately 1.2 ng/ml is associated with a significant improvement in central hemodynamics, particularly in patients with impaired cardiac function despite pretreatment with diuretics and ACE inhibitors. Acute administration of digoxin in patients with chronic heart failure has an immediate sympathoinhibitory effect, and chronic therapy is associated with a sustained decrease in serum norepinephrine concentration. Discontinuation of digoxin in patients with chronic heart failure resulted in hemodynamic deterioration, which was reversed when the drug was readministered. Randomized withdrawal of digoxin in patients receiving only diuretics (PROVED study), or its withdrawal in patients receiving diuretics and ACE inhibitors (RADIANCE study), was associated with worsening of the clinical evidence of heart failure and a decrease in left ventricular systolic function in both studies. In the only large-scale, placebo-controlled mortality study reported thus for (DIG Trial), 7788 patients received standard drug treatment for chronic heart failure in addition to either digoxin or placebo. Digoxin had no impact on survival over the 37 months of follow-up, but the incidence of hospitalizations due to worsening heart failure was significantly reduced in patients receiving the drug compared with those receiving placebo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-283
Number of pages5
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - 1997


  • Chronic heart failure
  • Clinical efficacy
  • Digoxin
  • Hemodynamics
  • Neuroendocrine effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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