Digitalis Glycosides

  • Ralph A. Kelly
  • Thomas W. Smith


Cardiac glycosides have played a prominent role in the therapy of congestive heart failure since William Withering codified its use in his classic monograph on the efficacy of the leaves of the common foxglove plant (Digitalis purpurea) in 1785. However, a controversy has arisen in the past two decades about whether the risks of digitalis preparations outweigh their benefits, particularly in patients with heart failure in sinus rhythm.1 The standard for clinical use of the cardiac glycosides in modern medicine was reflected in a debate between two eminent clinicians, who were also the coeditors of the Oxford Medicine, Henry Christian and Sir James Mackenzie. Sir James Mackenzie advocated the use of digitalis preparations only in those patients with heart failure who also had atrial arrhythmias, prompting the following response from Christian: “My views evidently differ from those of my fellow editor of the Oxford Medicine.


Cardiac Glycoside Positive Inotropic Effect Serum Digoxin Concentration Digoxin Toxicity Versus Block 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph A. Kelly
  • Thomas W. Smith

There are no affiliations available

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