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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2004 Aug;15(8):2195-203.

Renal function, digoxin therapy, and heart failure outcomes: evidence from the digoxin intervention group trial.

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  • 1General Internal Medicine Section, San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.


Renal dysfunction is a common complication for patients with heart failure, but its association with clinical outcomes has not been fully characterized. We evaluated the association of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) with heart failure survival and the effect of digoxin on heart failure outcomes across GFR strata. A secondary analysis from the Digitalis Intervention Group trial was conducted of 6800 outpatients with systolic heart failure. Renal function was categorized as estimated GFR (expressed in ml/min per 1.73 m(2)). All-cause mortality (mean, 3 yr) was inversely proportional to GFR (GFR >60, 31% mortality; GFR 30 to 60, 46% mortality; GFR <30, 62% mortality; P < 0.001). Among patients with a GFR <50, lower GFR were associated with greater adjusted mortality risk (GFR <30: hazard ratio [HR], 2.06, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.69 to 2.51; GFR 30 to 40: HR, 1.42, 95% CI, 1.22 to 1.67; GFR 40 to 50: HR, 1.22, 95% CI, 1.07 to 1.39; GFR 50 to 60: HR, 1.00, referent). In contrast, participants with GFR 60 to 70 had similar risk (HR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.88 to 1.14) compared with GFR 50 to 60, and those with GFR >70 had a slightly lower mortality hazard (0.89; 95% CI, 0.78 to 1.00). Linear spline analyses confirmed that GFR = 50 was the appropriate risk threshold; above 50, GFR had no association with mortality, whereas below 50, mortality risk increased sharply with declining GFR (spline coefficient, P < 0.0001). Digoxin efficacy did not differ by level of GFR (P = 0.19 for interaction). Renal dysfunction is strongly associated with mortality in stable outpatients with heart failure, notably in patients with estimated GFR <50 ml/min per 1.73 m(2). The effect of digoxin did not differ by level of renal function.

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