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Discharge Instructions: Taking Cardiac Glycosides

Your doctor prescribed a drug called a cardiac glycoside for you. This medication treats your heart by strengthening its pumping action. It is also used to slow the heart rate if your heart is “racing” in a certain way (atrial fibrillation or flutter). 

The name of your cardiac glycoside is   ____________________________________________

Home Care

  • Follow the fact sheet that came with your medication. It tells you when and how to take your medication. Ask for a sheet if you didn’t get one.

  • Take this medication at the same time every day.

  • If you miss a dose of this medication, take it as soon as you remember—unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, just wait and take your next dose at the normal time. Don’t take a double dose.

  • Don’t take antacids or dietary fiber within 4 to 6 hours of taking your cardiac glycoside.

  • Ask your doctor about other medications that interact with your cardiac glycoside.

  • Call your doctor if you gain more than 2 pounds in 24 hours or more than 5 pounds in 1 week.

  • Keep appointments for lab work. Your doctor needs to monitor the amount of medication in your blood.

  • Don’t drive unless you know how this drug affects you.

  • Learn to take your own pulse. Keep a record of your results. Ask your doctor which pulse rates mean that you need medical attention.

Possible Side Effects

Tell your doctor if you have any of these side effects. Don’t stop taking the medication unless your doctor tells you to. Mild side effects include the following:

  • Fatigue

  • Pain and cramps in your abdomen

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Confusion

  • Blurred vision or yellow/green “halos” seen around objects

  • Rapid or slow pulse

  • Skin rash

  • Breast enlargement

  • Severe pain in your abdomen

  • Vomiting

  • Chest pain

  • Trouble breathing



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