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Acta Clin Belg. 2019 Feb;74(1):41-47. doi: 10.1080/17843286.2018.1516173. Epub 2018 Sep 17.

Hypomagnesemia and hypermagnesemia.

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a Renal Division, Department of Internal Medicine , Ghent University Hospital , Ghent , Belgium.


Introduction:Magnesium is an essential element which also has pleiotropic effects in humans. Recent studies have altered our interpretation of a disturbed magnesium balance both leading to hypomagnesemia and hypermagnesemia. Methods: a narrative review of their clinical relevance is presented. Results: Although magnesium balance is strictly controlled by the kidneys, hypomagnesemia is fairly common, especially in people with comorbid conditions. Increased renal magnesium wasting, often aggravated by drugs, is commonly found in conditions associated with unfavorable outcomes such as diabetes mellitus and sepsis. Depending on its severity hypomagnesemia may reveal itself by potentially hazardous neurological and cardiovascular symptoms. Intravenous magnesium is an evidence-based treatment of torsades de pointes and preeclampsia irrespective of the presence of preexisting hypomagnesemia. Magnesium deficiency and/or hypomagnesemia has been linked to cardiovascular disease, vascular calcification and endothelial function both in vitro and in vivo. (Severe) hypermagnesemia can be life-threatening but is almost exclusively observed in patients with substantially decreased kidney function associated with high magnesium intake through supplements or magnesium containing cathartics or antacids. Conclusion:It remains unclear whether mild hypermagnesemia confers survival benefit especially in subjects with decreased kidney function. The role of oral magnesium supplementation of chronic mild asymptomatic hypomagnesemia also merits further exploration through interventional studies in various study populations.


Magnesium; cardiovascular; hypermagnesemia; hypomagnesemia; survival

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