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Cardiology Research and Practice
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 314041, 10 pages
Review Article

Digoxin Use to Control Ventricular Rate in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation and Heart Failure Is Not Associated with Increased Mortality

1Division of Cardiology and Center for Cardiovascular Diseases and Science, LSU Health Science Center, Shreveport, LA 71103, USA
2Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA

Received 18 September 2015; Accepted 24 November 2015

Academic Editor: Hugo A. Katus

Copyright © 2015 Surbhi Chamaria et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Digoxin is used to control ventricular rate in atrial fibrillation (AF). There is conflicting evidence regarding safety of digoxin. We aimed to evaluate the risk of mortality with digoxin use in patients with AF using meta-analyses. Methods. PubMed was searched for studies comparing outcomes of patients with AF taking digoxin versus no digoxin, with or without heart failure (HF). Studies were excluded if they reported only a point estimate of mortality, duplicated patient populations, and/or did not report adjusted hazard ratios (HR). The primary endpoint was all-cause mortality. Adjusted HRs were combined using generic inverse variance and log hazard ratios. A multivariate metaregression model was used to explore heterogeneity in studies. Results. Twelve studies with 321,944 patients were included in the meta-analysis. In all AF patients, irrespective of heart failure status, digoxin is associated with increased all-cause mortality (HR [1.23], 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.16–1.31). However, digoxin is not associated with increased mortality in patients with AF and HF (HR [1.08], 95% CI 0.99–1.18). In AF patients without HF digoxin is associated with increased all-cause mortality (HR [1.38], 95% CI 1.12–1.71). Conclusion. In patients with AF and HF, digoxin use is not associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality when used for rate control.