Standards of laboratory practice: Cardiac drug monitoring

Roland Valdes*, Saeed A. Jortani, Mihai Gheorghiade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


In this Standard of Laboratory Practice we recommend guidelines for therapeutic monitoring of cardiac drugs. Cardiac drugs are primarily used for treatment of angina, arrhythmias, and congestive heart failure. Digoxin, used in congestive heart failure, is widely prescribed and therapeutically monitored. Monitoring and use of antiarrhythmics such as disopyramide and lidocaine have been steadily declining. Immunoassay techniques are currently the most popular methods for measuring cardiac drugs. Several reasons make measurement of cardiac drugs in serum important: their narrow therapeutic index, similarity in clinical complications and presentation of under- and overmedicated patients, need for dosage adjustments, and confirmation of patient compliance. Monitoring may also be necessary in other circumstances, such as assessment of acetylator phenotypes. We present recommendations for measuring digoxin, quinidine, procainamide (and N-acetylprocainamide), lidocaine, and flecainide. We discuss guidelines for measuring unbound digoxin in the presence of an antidote (Fab fragments), for characterizing the impact of digoxin-like immunoreactive factor (DLIF) and other cross- reactants on immunoassays, and for monitoring the unbound (free fraction) of drugs that bind to α1-acid glycoprotein. We also discuss logistic, clinical, hospital, and laboratory practice guidelines needed for implementation of a successful therapeutic drug monitoring service for cardiac drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1096-1109
Number of pages14
JournalClinical chemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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