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April 14, 1923


JAMA. 1923;80(15):1072. doi:10.1001/jama.1923.02640420034016

That the action of digitalis persists after the drug has been withdrawn was recognized by Withering in 1785. In recent years, Bastedo determined the presence of digitalis heart block three and a half weeks after the administration of digitalis had been stopped. Cohn observed by means of electrocardiograms that, in relatively healthy hearts, delayed conduction always persisted for at least two days, and occasionally for two weeks, while Eggleston reported coupled beats from four to twelve days, heart block from three to six days, auricular fibrillation three days, and extrasystoles two days after withdrawal of the drug. Agassiz found, after the intravenous injection of strophanthin, that the heart rate present before treatment returned in about a week. The action of digitalis persists, therefore, for several days in most cases, and in exceptional cases for three weeks. It is evident that better control of the action of digitalis is desirable.1