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January 13, 1945

Current Comment

JAMA. 1945;127(2):93. doi:10.1001/jama.1945.02860020037013

SOME TOXIC ASPECTS OF DIGITALIS THERAPY  Digitalis preparations are used extensively in the treatment of heart disease. In obesity they have been used to reduce food intake and weight by causing loss of appetite. Their use in ointments for the treatment of indolent ulcers and for protection against the lethal effect of high altitude has been suggested. Probably their medicinal use may have unintended toxic by-effects. The toxic action of digitalis glycosides on the cardiac function has been fraudulently used to cause simulation of heart disease for the collection of life insurance. While physicians are usually well acquainted with the functional cardiovascular and cerebral manifestations of digitalis poisoning, they are less familiar with some recent clinical and experimental evidence pointing to the induction of anatomic cardiovascular and cerebral reactions and hematic effects which are of medical and medicolegal significance. Experimental subjection of animals of different species to lethal and sublethal