What is the role of cardiac glycoside agents in the treatment of cor pulmonale?

Updated: Dec 15, 2017
  • Author: Derek Leong, MD; Chief Editor: Henry H Ooi, MD, MRCPI  more...
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Answer

Answer

The use of cardiac glycosides, such as digitalis, in patients with cor pulmonale has been controversial, and the beneficial effect of these drugs is not as obvious as in the setting of left heart failure. Nevertheless, studies have confirmed a modest effect of digitalis on the failing right ventricle in patients with chronic cor pulmonale. [37] This drug must be used cautiously, however, and should not be used during the acute phases of respiratory insufficiency when large fluctuations in levels of hypoxia and acidosis may occur. Patients with hypoxemia or acidosis are at increased risk of developing arrhythmias due to digitalis through different mechanisms, including sympathoadrenal stimulation.


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