A controlled trial of digoxin in congestive heart failure
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Because of conflicting results from studies examining the usefulness of digoxin in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients in sinus rhythm, a cross-over trial was conducted in which 20 patients received 7 weeks of digoxin titrated to a level of 1.54 to 2.56 nmol/liter and 7 weeks of matched placebo. The order of treatments was determined by random allocation and patients, clinicians and research staff were blind to allocation. In patients with deteriorating condition, the treatment period was terminated and outcome measures were obtained. If deterioration occurred during the first period, the patient was crossed over without the code being broken. Seven patients required premature termination of study periods because of increasing symptoms of CHF. All 7 were taking placebo at the time (p = 0.016). Small differences in dyspnea (p = 0.044), walking test score (p = 0.055), clinical assessment of CHF (p = 0.036) and ejection fraction (p = 0.004) favored the digoxin treatment group. Patients with more severe CHF were more likely to benefit from digoxin administration. It was concluded that oral digoxin, in doses titrated to produce a serum level of 1.54 to 2.56 nmol/liter, improved quality of life and functional exercise capacity in some patients with CHF in sinus rhythm.
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