Does digitalis work in chronic heart failure? The end of a 200-year-old controversy

Milton Packer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Controlled trials using modern methods of assessment in well-defined groups of patients have now convincingly demonstrated that digitalis is an effective and well-tolerated drug in patients with chronic heart failure who have left ventricular systolic dysfunction. These encouraging findings concerning digitalis, however, should not be construed to suggest that the drug should be used alone in the treatment of heart failure. Digitalis cannot adequately control the fluid retention seen in most patients with chronic heart failure; diuretics should be added to maintain sodium balance. Digitalis has not been shown to prolong life in chronic heart failure; converting-enzyme inhibitors should be added to reduce morbidity and mortality. All three drugs should be used together in the management of patients with this disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-746
Number of pages4
JournalCardiovascular Drugs and Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1989


  • congestive heart failure
  • digitalis
  • diuretics
  • left ventricular systolic failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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