Living in the modern world has made many diseases that were not common in the past such as hypertension and heart diseases more easily found in people nowadays. This could stem from an unhealthy lifestyle such as sedentary life and poor eating habits. There are many medicines used by doctors to help people achieve better health. In this article, we will be focusing on one of the medicines that is used in treating conditions affecting blood pressure. This medication is known as digoxin.

You may want to understand a bit more what exactly is blood pressure. Blood pressure is the measure of the force the heart uses to pump blood throughout the body. It is normal for blood pressure to rise and fall in slight manner in a day. The first number is known as systolic blood pressure which measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and the second number is known as diastolic blood pressure which measures the pressure of arteries when the heart rests between beats.

You may be familiar with hypertension as it is often associated with blood pressure. Hypertension is defined as the systolic blood pressure values of above 130mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure more than 80mmHg. It is worth noting that a person is typically diagnosed with hypertension after three or more blood pressure readings show high blood pressure and the readings are taken at least three or more times on separate visits across weeks.

Digoxin is classified as a cardiac glycoside class of drugs. It is a medication typically used to manage and treat heart failure. It is also used to treat certain abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Digoxin works by slowing down the heart rate and helps the heart to beat stronger. This makes it easy for the heart to pump blood around the body.

The question now is, what does digoxin do for blood pressure? Digoxin decrease diastolic blood pressure and increases systolic blood pressure. It is worth noting that these effect seem to only occur overnight during sleep. In daytime, digoxin had no effect on either systolic or diastolic blood pressure. This explains why digoxin is used for patients with borderline blood pressure (also known as prehypertension that refers to pressure in the grey zone between clearly normal and abnormal levels) as it has a neutral effect on blood pressure despite it being able to lower heart rate.

It is important to use digoxin only when directed by doctors. You may also ask the pharmacist if you are unsure or have difficulty when using digoxin. It is important to know how to use it properly and best to use the same brands of digoxin as it can ensure you are getting the right dose. Digoxin should be taken continuously even when you feel well. It may take several weeks before digoxin can work properly in the body. Never stop taking this medication without having a discussion first with the doctor.

If you are using other medication besides what is prescribed by doctors, you should let the doctor know about this as this is important to avoid adverse drug reaction or risk for side effects. Supplements or herbs should not be taken along with this medication unless it is okay to do so by doctors. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, rash, headache, vision changes and weakness. If any side effects become worse, patients need to talk with their doctor. Patients should avoid driving on their own or operate heavy machines if they feel sleepy or drowsy when taking digoxin. Avoid drinking alcohol while taking digoxin as it could worsen side effects.

Beside taking medication such as digoxin, patients should also take extra steps in ensuring their cardiovascular health is always in check. This includes:

  • Eat a heart healthy diet consisting of abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
  • Avoiding food high in salt and sodium such as processed food, canned and fast food.
  • Avoid drinking or eating food high in sugar, especially simple carbohydrates.
  • Be physically active by performing physical activity of a total of 150 minutes per week. Physical activity can be as simple as climbing stairs, gardening, household chores and brisk walking.
  • Maintain healthy weight.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Have a good night sleep of 7 to 8 hours.
  • Learn to manage stress in a healthy way such as relaxation and mindfulness.
  • Regular health check-up.

It can be concluded that digoxin is a medication belonging to the drug class of cardiac glycosides. It works by affecting the way the heart works and ensures the heart can beat stronger and steady. Digoxin does have an effect on the blood pressure but is most likely to be seen at nighttime or when sleeping. Patients need to ensure they are using digoxin as instructed by doctors and to not stop taking it without having discussion with the doctor first.

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