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Digoxin test

Heart failure - digoxin test

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Definition

A digoxin test checks how much digoxin you have in your blood. Digoxin is a type of medicine called a cardiac glycoside. It is used to treat certain heart problems.

How the Test is Performed

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing where the needle was inserted.

How to Prepare for the Test

Ask your health care provider whether you should take your usual medicines before the test.

Normal Results

In general, normal values range from 0.5 to 1.9 nanograms per milliliter of blood. But the right level for some people may vary depending on the situation.

The examples above are common measurements for results of these tests. Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

Risks

Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may mean you are getting too little or too much digoxin.

A very high value could mean that you have or are likely to develop a digoxin overdose (toxicity).

Why the Test is Performed

The main purpose of this test is to determine the best dosage of digoxin and prevent side effects.

It is important to monitor the level of digitalis medicines such as digoxin. That is because the difference between a safe treatment level and a harmful level is small.

Review Date: 5/16/2018
Reviewed By: Michael A. Chen, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington Medical School, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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