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ENGLEMED HEALTH NEWS

Time up for foxglove drug?

Tuesday May 5th, 2015

A classic heart disease drug based on a poisonous wild flower is linked to an increase in death rates, researchers report today.

Digoxin, derived from the foxglove, stimulates the heart-beat and has been used to treat atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure.

German researchers analysed a series of studies over the last 20 years involving a total of more than 326,000 people.

The research showed a 21% increased risk of death among patients who received digoxin.

The increase was 29% when patients had atrial fibrillation and 14% for those with heart failure.

The findings were reported today in the European Heart Journal.

The researchers suggest randomised clinical trials of the drug - calling for it to be used with "great caution."

Researcher Professor Stefan Hohnloser, of J.W. Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, said: "Digoxin has been used for decades and even now it is used in approximately one in three AF patients, yet we have been able to do this meta-analysis only now.

"My personal feeling is that the time of digoxin - particularly as a heart rate-controlling drug in AF - is over. But this needs to be tested in appropriately designed studies."

Digoxin-associated mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature. European Heart Journal 5 May 2015; doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehv143

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | Pharmaceuticals

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