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Int J Cardiol. 2003 Jun;89(2-3):153-8.

Antiarrhythmic effect of magnesium sulfate after open heart surgery: effect of blood levels.

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Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, Ankara University School of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey. <>



Arrhythmias following cardiac surgery is still a difficult complication to treat. Magnesium sulfate is an effective antiarrhythmic agent with negligible side effects. In this study, effects of magnesium sulfate as a first line antiarrhythmic agent was compared with results of two different well-accepted antiarrhythmic agents.


One hundred patients with arrhythmia were prospectively randomized to a study and a control group. Lidocaine and amiodarone were accepted as standard antiarrhythmic agents. Patients in study group were received magnesium sulfate routinely as a first line antiarrhythmic agent. Unresponsive arrhythmias were treated with standard antiarrhythmic agents. Control group patients received only standard antiarrhythmics.


Magnesium sulfate alone was effective in 56% of the study group whereas 74% of the control group were responsive to standard antiarrhythmics (P=n.s.). In study group, a subgroup analysis according to blood levels of Mg2+ revealed that magnesium sulfate was more effective in patients with low Mg2+ levels (63% for low Mg2+ levels, 55% for normal Mg2+ levels, 36% for high Mg2+ levels) and ventricular arrhythmias (60% for ventricular and 40% for supraventricular arrhythmias), without statistical significance.


Magnesium sulfate is an effective and safe antiarrhythmic agent for arrhythmias developed after open-heart surgery. Its antiarrhythmic effect may relate to its pharmacological properties and unrelated to normalization of the circulating magnesium concentrations. We recommend its use as a first line antiarrhythmic agent without routine measurement of blood levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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