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Ann Thorac Surg. 1991 Sep;52(3):529-33.

Prophylaxis of atrial fibrillation with magnesium sulfate after coronary artery bypass grafting.

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Department of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee.


Ninety-nine consecutive consenting patients were prospectively entered into a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the efficacy of postoperative magnesium therapy on the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias after elective coronary artery bypass grafting. No patient had documented or suspected arrhythmias preoperatively. Forty-nine patients received 178 mEq of magnesium given over the first 4 postoperative days, and 50 patients received only placebo. The clinical characteristics of both groups were similar. The preoperative mean serum magnesium concentration was similar in both study (1.90 mEq/L) and placebo (1.90 mEq/L) groups. The mean postoperative serum magnesium concentration in study patients was significantly elevated over postoperative days 1 through 4 when compared with preoperative levels (p less than 0.001). The postoperative mean serum magnesium concentration in control patients declined and remained significantly depressed through postoperative day 3 (p less than 0.001), but increased to preoperative levels by postoperative day 4. The mean serum magnesium concentration was significantly greater in the study patients as compared with the control patients over postoperative days 1 through 4 (p less than 0.001). Although there was no significant difference between groups with respect to episodes of ventricular arrhythmias, there was a significant decrease in the number of episodes of atrial fibrillation in the group receiving magnesium therapy (p less than 0.02). There were no recognized adverse effects of magnesium therapy. Prophylactic magnesium administration seems to lessen the incidence and severity of atrial fibrillation after coronary artery bypass grafting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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