Are coronary patients at higher risk with digoxin therapy? An ongoing controversy

Henrietta Reicher-Reiss, Michael Jonas, Valentina Boyko, Avraham Shotan, Uri Goldbourt, Solomon Behar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Previous reports have yielded contradictory conclusions regarding the safety of digoxin therapy in patients with acute myocardial infarction. The purpose of our study was to determine whether digoxin therapy is associated with increased mortality in patients with chronic coronary artery disease. We analyzed data from 8173 patients who were screened for participation in the Bezafibrate Infarction Prevention (BIP) trial and who survived an acute myocardial infarction at least 6 months prior to the study. Three-year overall mortality of the 451 (15.5%) patients receiving digoxin (according to the judgement of their treating physician) at the time of screening for BIP participation, was 22.4% compared to 8.3% in the patients who did not receive digoxin. Cardiac mortality was 16.2% in the digoxin-treated group, compared to 4.9% in the non-treated patients. The increased risk associated with digoxin remained statistically significant when patients were stratified according to sex, age groups, functional capacity and the presence of hypertension, diabetes or angina. The administration of digoxin to survivors of an acute myocardial infarction in the chronic phase of their disease, is statistically associated with a 30-50% increase in the risk of overall and cardiac mortality during long-term follow-up. A propensity of increased risk of arrhythmias in ischemic coronary patients may explain this finding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Cardiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 28 Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronary heart disease
  • Digoxin
  • Myocardial infarction


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