Uh-oh, Digoxin, Too? Pay Attention to What You’re Taking.

Common drug increases fatal heart attack risk by 72 per cent

One of the world’s most common heart drugs that has been used for years increases the risk of a fatal heart attack by 72 per cent, a new study has found this week.

Digoxin, the active ingredient found in around 40 prescription drugs, increases the risk in people who have suffered systolic heart failure. Digoxin is derived from digitalis, a plant that has been used for more than 200 years to treat heart failure, yet, despite its longterm use, researchers have discovered only this week that it can be fatal.

Those most at risk have suffered systolic heart failure, where the left heart ventricle fails to pump blood properly. Any heart drug that includes digoxin can increase the risk of a fatal heart attack by 72 per cent, say researchers from the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. They made the discovery after they tracked the health of 2,891 adults who had suffered systolic heart failure, 18 per cent of whom were prescribed digoxin.

The researchers say that doctors should consider using a safer drug.

Source: Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 2013; 6: 525