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Definition Return to top
The digoxin test checks to see how much of the medication digoxin you have in your blood. Digoxin is a type of medicine called a cardiac glycoside, which is used to treat certain heart problems.
See also: Digoxin overdose
How the Test is Performed Return to top
Blood is typically drawn from a vein, usually from the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand. The site is cleaned with germ-killing medicine (antiseptic). The health care provider wraps an elastic band around the upper arm to apply pressure to the area and make the vein swell with blood.
Next, the health care provider gently inserts a needle into the vein. The blood collects into an airtight vial or tube attached to the needle. The elastic band is removed from your arm.
Once the blood has been collected, the needle is removed, and the puncture site is covered to stop any bleeding.
In infants or young children, a sharp tool called a lancet may be used to puncture the skin and make it bleed. The blood collects into a small glass tube called a pipette, or onto a slide or test strip. A bandage may be placed over the area if there is any bleeding.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
Consult your health care provider about the need to take (or not take) usual medications before the test.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
The main purpose of this test is to monitor patients taking digoxin in order to determine the effective drug dosage and prevent side effects.
Monitoring of drug levels is important in people taking digitalis medications such as digoxin, because the difference between therapeutic levels and harmful levels is small.
Normal Results Return to top
Normal values range from 0.8 to 2.0 nanograms per milliliter.
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
Abnormal results may mean you are getting too little or too much of the medication.
A very high value could mean that you have or are likely to develop digoxin overdose (toxicity).
Risks Return to top
Veins and arteries vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Other risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include: