The myth of the stone heart

The myth of the stone heart has been passed down from medical text to medical text since the first case reports appeared in the literature in the 1930s.   Digoxin inhibits the sodium-potassium ATPase pump leading to increased mycocardial calcium concentrations.  Since calcium causes myocardial contraction, seemed possible that increasing intracellular levels of the calcium would produce cardiac tetanany.

Patients with digoxin toxicity who were given calcium did not have a statistically significant increase in mortality (22% versus 20%).

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