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Also Known As:  Lanoxin, Sigmaxin, Serum Digoxin Level

What Is A Digoxin Test?

A Digoxin Test analyzes how much digoxin you have in your bloodstream. Doctors often use this test to know if the concentration of this medication within your body is at the desired therapeutic level or harmful toxic level. Digoxin is a drug that belongs to the cardiac glycoside group. Many people consume this medication as the first line of treatment against heart failure and irregular heartbeats. This medication is available in oral form. Once you take the desired dosage, your body will absorb the drug. It travels to your body tissues, especially those in your liver, 
kidney, and heart.

Since this drug is used to treat heart failure, this cardiac condition, including (CHF) congestive heart failure, can make your heart become weak and less productive at circulating blood throughout the body. Excessive blood starts to accumulate in your hands,  legs, liver, feet, and lungs when this happens. You might experience swelling, fatigue, and shortness of breath. This test is the exact measurement of digoxin in the blood.

Apart from treating heart failure, digoxin also helps relieve severe associated symptoms. Thanks to its impact, the drug can strengthen the contractions of your heart and allow it to pump oxygenated blood more efficiently in the body. According to several pieces of research, digoxin also helps control abnormal heart rhythms and heart rate, a condition commonly known as arrhythmias. Even though it cannot wholly treat arrhythmias or heart failure,  the drug can still manage the symptoms along with your exercise regime, diet, and medications.

People with chronic conditions must monitor their digoxin levels because this medication has a very narrow safety range. If the digoxin level in the blood is low, cardiac symptoms may begin to reoccur. On the other hand, higher levels can lead to toxicity.

What Is The Test Used For?

Digoxin can be a potentially lethal, hazardous, and poisonous chemical when consumed in large amounts over an extended period. Consumption of incorrect doses also poses a severe risk to an individual. Therefore, your health care provider or doctor needs to regularly monitor the amount of this drug in your blood during the treatment session.

Young children taking this medication are also at a high risk of developing digoxin overdose and toxicity. In such cases, the doctors become even more responsible for checking the levels of this particular drug in the system. It is mainly because the signs and symptoms of digoxin overdose are somewhat similar to those of the heart conditions that made you start the medication in the first place. Initially, your doctor will perform several tests to authenticate an appropriate dose for you. When needed, the doctor can continue to recommend the tests frequently for as long as your treatment lasts. They can also ask you for the test if they think you are getting too much or too little of the medication.

Why And When Do You Need A Digoxin Test?

The test results are needed to measure digoxin in blood serum for further management and evaluation of individuals receiving digoxin therapy or those consuming digoxin-like compounds regularly. You can get tested at least one week after starting the digoxin therapy. Get yourself tested at regular intervals to ensure that the drug levels are in between the therapeutic range and are not near lower toxic concentrations.
When the concentration of the drug system is low, you may experience symptoms similar to heart failure. for example:

  • Swelling in your hands and feet, also known as edema
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Trouble breathing

If the level of digoxin in your system is very high, you get symptoms of an overdose, including:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue or dizziness
  • Seeing green or yellow halos around objects
  • Diarrhea
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Confusion
  • Neuropsychological symptoms like clouded or Blurred vision
  • Depression

What kind of sample is required for the test?

The doctor will analyze digoxin levels in your blood by taking a blood sample. For this, they might ask you to visit an outpatient clinical lab or private facility to give a blood sample for testing. You will meet a healthcare professional at the lab who will draw blood from your arm using a thin, small needle.

Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?

Since it is a standard blood test, you don't need to do some special preparation before going to the lab. The timing of blood collection is critical with this test. Your doctor might instruct you to give your blood sample after a specific number of hours from your last dose of digoxin. Usually, they will ask you for a test 6-8 hours after the previous medicine dosage, so while you are giving the sample, do not forget to tell the person taking blood when you took your last digoxin capsule.

Also, it is better to let the doctor know about all the other medicines or supplements you are taking alongside digoxin. This is because some OTC or prescription drugs can affect the digoxin level in your body, thus making it too high or too low in concentration. These medicines include:

  • Antifungal medicines
  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs or pain killers
  • Some blood pressure medicines

Ask your healthcare provider if you should stop consuming any of the above medications before taking the test.

Are There Any Risks To This Test?

It is a standard blood test, so the risks and hazards are quite low. Some of you might experience dizziness, sting, or mild pain while giving the blood sample. After the test, the puncture site can feel sore, bruised with slight bleeding or hematoma.

What Do The Test Results Mean?

The therapeutic range for digoxin has already been established to 0.5-2.0ug/L. This recommended range is also applicable for people with arrhythmias and other cardiac conditions. However, it is essential to mention that every patient shows a different response to the drug where other factors like concurrent medicines may also be involved.

If the test results are not between the therapeutic ranges but you are asymptomatic, you can continue with the medicine as per your doctor's recommendation. If the levels are high, the doctors will decide if the dose needs adjustment or you should stop taking medication altogether.

Related Tests:  Serum Creatinine Level, Serum Magnesium Level, Serum Potassium Level

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