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Rev Port Cardiol. 2013 Apr;32(4):303-10. doi: 10.1016/j.repc.2012.11.007. Epub 2013 Mar 23.

Digoxin in advanced heart failure patients: a question of rhythm.

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Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra e Clínica Universitária de Cardiologia da Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.



The impact of digoxin on outcomes of patients with advanced heart failure (HF) remains uncertain and its effect may be different for patients in atrial fibrillation (AF) or sinus rhythm (SR).


To determine the impact of digoxin on outcomes of advanced HF patients and to assess whether prognosis differs in patients in AF and SR.


A total of 268 consecutive patients admitted to an intensive care unit with decompensated HF were evaluated. Patients were divided into two groups: A - patients with AF (n=89), and B - patients in SR (n=179). For each group we compared patients medicated and not medicated with digoxin. A mean follow-up of 3.3 years was performed.


Addition of digoxin to contemporary standard HF therapy showed no impact on mortality of patients in group B (all-cause mortality in follow-up: 19.1% vs. 22.5%, p=0.788). Regarding group A, we observed significantly lower medium-term mortality for patients on digoxin therapy (18.6% vs. 46.6%, p=0.048). Digoxin therapy did not influence readmissions for decompensated HF. Among AF patients, no differences were found regarding demographic, clinical, echocardiographic and laboratory variables between patients medicated and not medicated with digoxin.


Digoxin therapy may improve the prognosis of advanced HF patients with AF under optimal medical therapy. However, no benefit of digoxin was demonstrated for patients in SR. These results may help to improve patient selection for digoxin therapy.

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