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What Is Lanoxin®?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Lanoxin® is a trade name for digitoxin, a medication that may be used to treat arrhythmias, atrial flutter or congestive heart failure. It is derived from digitalis, more commonly known as foxglove, and both the plant and its derivative have a high toxicity rate, which means dosage must be strictly followed to prevent dangerous side effects or poisoning. Even in the therapeutic range, digitoxin has a heavy side effect profile, but it can be very effective because it increases cardiac efficiency and has mild diuretic effects. The medication is available in liquid, tablet, and injectable forms and both children and adults with heart issues may use it.

Medical writers have observed that while once Lanoxin® was one of the most commonly prescribed cardiac medicines, newer medications that are as effective but less toxic may gradually be responsible for a decline in its use. Principally, newer medicines differ from digitoxin because they are less likely to create dangerous side effects and drug interactions. It should be noted that not all patients who use Lanoxin® experience side effects, but all patients or their caregivers should be aware of common adverse effects that are either benign or medically serious.

Some of the benign side effects associated with Lanoxin® include stomach upset with vomiting, diarrhea or nausea. People may also note weakness or feelings of faintness or dizziness, and some men may report perceptible enlargement of the breasts. Additional symptoms that are not considered dangerous include rash or headache. While these symptoms tend not to be serious, and not all patients will have them, their continuation should be reported to the doctor, as it is possible another medication is more appropriate.

There are side effects from Lanoxin®, which are dangerous and require immediate medical attention. Any changes to heart rate, whether slow or fast can be an indication of severe problems. Suggestion of intestinal bleeding through the presence of black or coal-colored stool is a serious matter. Additionally, digitoxin can sometimes cause hallucinations or altered thinking, and it may result in jaundice. Blurred vision is medically significant, too.

Some individuals should not use Lanoxin® or need special monitoring when taking it. Pregnant women are advised against its use because the medication is dangerous to the fetus, and the drug gets into breastmilk, making it a poor choice for women who are nursing. People with atrioventricular block who do not have a pacemaker are advised not to take this drug. Patients with electrolyte imbalances, those who have kidney or thyroid conditions, and those who have recently had a heart attack, may need careful attention if they are directed to take Lanoxin®.

Digitoxin interacts with many other medications, and patients should provide a list to their physicians of all drugs they are currently using. This list should include any use of vitamin or herbal supplements and over the counter medications. When given Lanoxin®, patients or their caregivers need to fully understand dosing schedule of the medication, as the most trouble may arise if patients accidentally take too much.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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