Magnesium Helps Patients with Heart Failure

By Hans R. Larsen MSc ChE

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA. Researchers at the University of North Carolina have found that magnesium injections lower the frequency and severity of ventricular arrhythmias in patients with heart failure. Twenty-one men and nine women aged 49 +9.6 years participated in the double-blind, placebo- controlled crossover experiment. The active treatment consisted of one injection of 0.3 mEq/kg magnesium chloride in 5 per cent dextrose in water followed by continuous infusion of a dextrose/water magnesium chloride solution (0.08 mEq/kg per hour) over 24 hours. The placebo treatment was similar except that the magnesium chloride was omitted from the dextrose/water solution. The number of PVCs (premature ventricular contractions) per hour was reduced by 53 per cent in the magnesium group as compared to the placebo group; the number of episodes of ventricular tachycardia was reduced by 69 per cent and in the patients who did have such episodes the heart rate was significantly lower than during placebo treatment (143 beats/minute vs. 179 beats/minute). The researchers recommend that a larger study be undertaken to determine if oral administration of magnesium would have similar benefits.

Sueta, Carla A., et al. Effect of acute magnesium administration on the frequency of ventricular arrhythmia in patients with heart failure. Circulation, Vol. 89, No. 2, February 1994, pp. 660-66

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