- Monitor apical pulse for 1 full min before administering. Withhold dose and notify health care professional if pulse rate is <60 bpm in an adult, <70 bpm in a child, or <90 bpm in an infant. Also notify health care professional promptly of any significant changes in rate, rhythm, or quality of pulse.
- Pedi: Heart rate varies in children depending on age, ask physician to specify at what heart rates digoxin should be withheld.
- Monitor BP periodically in patients receiving IV digoxin.
- Monitor ECG throughout IV administration and 6 hr after each dose. Notify health care professional if bradycardia or new arrhythmias occur.
- Observe IV site for redness or infiltration; extravasation can lead to tissue irritation and sloughing.
- Monitor intake and output ratios and daily weights. Assess for peripheral edema, and auscultate lungs for rales/crackles throughout therapy.
- Before administering initial loading dose, determine whether patient has taken any digitalis preparations in the preceding 2–3 wk.
- Geri: Digoxin has been associated with an increased risk of falls in the elderly. Assess for falls risk and implement prevention strategies per facility protocol.
Lab Test Considerations:
Evaluate serum electrolyte levels (especially potassium, magnesium, and calcium) and renal and hepatic functions periodically during therapy. Notify health care professional before giving dose if patient is hypokalemic. Hypokalemia, hypomagnesemia, or hypercalcemia may make the patient more susceptible to digitalis toxicity. Pedi: Neonates may have falsely elevated serum digoxin concentrations due to a naturally occurring substance chemically similar to digoxin.Geri: Older adults may be toxic even when serum concentrations are within normal range; assess for clinical symptoms of toxicity even when serum levels are normal.Toxicity Overdose:
Therapeutic serum digoxin levels range from 0.5–2 ng/mL. Serum levels may be drawn 6–8 hr after a dose is administered, although they are usually drawn immediately before the next dose. Bacteria in the GI tract can metabolize a substantial amount of digoxin before it is absorbed. Patients receiving erythromycin or tetracycline, which kill gut bacteria, can develop toxicity on their usual doses of digoxin. Geri: Older adults are at increased risk for toxic effects of digoxin (appears on Beers list) due to age-related decreased renal clearance, which can exist even when serum creatinine levels are normal. Digoxin requirements in the older adult may change and a formerly therapeutic dose can become toxic.
- Observe for signs and symptoms of toxicity. In adults and older children, the first signs of toxicity usually include abdominal pain, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, bradycardia, and other arrhythmias. In infants and small children, the first symptoms of overdose are usually cardiac arrhythmias. If these appear, withhold drug and notify health care professional immediately.
- If signs of toxicity occur and are not severe, discontinuation of digitalis glycoside may be all that is required.
- If hypokalemia is present and renal function is adequate, potassium salts may be administered. Do not administer if hyperkalemia or heart block exists. Correct any other electrolyte abnormalities.
- Correction of arrhythmias resulting from digitalis toxicity may be attempted with lidocaine, procainamide, quinidine, propranolol, or phenytoin. Temporary ventricular pacing may be useful in advanced heart block.
- Treatment of life-threatening arrhythmias may include administration of digoxin immune Fab (Digibind), which binds to the digitalis glycoside molecule in the blood and is excreted by the kidneys.
digoxin has been found in Davis's Drug Guide
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