TABLE 16B1 Clinical Presentation of Digitalis Toxicity

Chronic toxicity occurs most typically in the elderly cardiac patient taking digoxin and diuretics. Signs and symptoms may mimic more common illnesses such as influenza and gastroenteritis. An altered mental status or psychiatric symptoms may not be recognized as signs of digitalis toxicity. Almost any cardiac dysrhythmia may be seen, but ventricular dysrhythmias occur more frequently in chronic than in acute poisonings.6 The serum digoxin level is not an accurate predictor of toxicity, and the serum potassium is usually decreased, normal, or may even be elevated in the setting of renal failure.

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