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Am J Med. 1975 Jun;58(6):837-46.

Magnesium deficiency and cardiac disorders.


Magnesium deficiency can occur in congestive heart failure, after diuresis with furoxemide, ethacrynic acid and mercurials, and with digitalis intoxication, diabetic acidosis, acute and chronic alcoholism, delerium tremens, cirrhosis, malabsorption syndromes, protracted postoperative cases, open heart surgery, the diuretic phase of acute tubular necrosis, and with hypoparathyroidism, primary aldosteronism, juxta-glomerular hyperplasia and pancreatitis. Two cases of serious ventricular arrhythmias associated with magnesium depletion are described. Clinical manifestations are vague but center around neurologic symptoms such as weakness, tremors, stupor, coma, nausea, vomiting and anorexia. Serious cardiac arrhythmias also occur with magnesium depletion. Magnesium appears to be very useful in hypomagnesemic or digitalis-toxic tachyarrhythmias. Magnesium may also be valuable in normomagnesemic tachyarrhythmias. Ten to fifteen milliliters of a 20 percent magnesium sulfate solution, given intravenously over 1 minute, followed by a slow 4 to 6 hour infusion of 500 ml of 2 per cent magnesium sulfate in 5 per cent dextrose in water is recommended. Recurrence of arrhythmias is common and a second infusion of magnesium sulfate may be necessary. Hypermagnesemia occurs frequently in renal insufficiency, and magnesium therapy may then be contraindicated. Serum levels above 5.5 meq/liter should be avoided. Loss of deep tendon reflexes and a decrease in respiratory rate can be used as guides to magnesium therapy. A plea is made for frequent analysis of serum magnesium so that more knowledge can be gained regarding this important biologic element in cardiovascular disorders.

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