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  The Magnesium Project - Diseases

Diseases of the Heart and Cardiovascular Systems
and Excretory System/Kidneys

Hypertension

Elevated blood pressure is a serious condition.  Over a prolonged period of type it can impact kidney function, heart performance and exchange of materials between the blood and tissues.  It is often manifested as an imbalance in electrolytes, principally sodium.  It is often the result of a malfunction in the hormone-controlled regulatory system of electrolytes; namely the renin and angiotensin hormones that regulate sodium and potassium homeostasis.

It can also be the result of failure of the vascular smooth muscle to relax or dilate sufficiently.  Mg acts as a natural blocker of Calcium channels as well as competing for other Ca-binding sites on proteins and other biochemicals.  In its role as a Ca-channel blocker, it serves as an antagonist to the normal Ca functions in contractions of the smooth muscle in blood vessels.  In this regard it has been used in the treatment of eclampsia, a condition of extremely high blood pressure in the third trimester of pregnancy.  See the web pages for Preeclampsia/ Eclampsia for further details on use of MgSO4 to prevent convulsions.  It has also been suggested that hypomagnesemia contributes to elevated blood pressure and that correction of that condition can be corrected in many instances by taking Mg supplements. 

Tension headaches or migraine are also often associated with pregnancy and some studies have suggested that Mg supplementation may be helpful in relieving these symptoms.

Arrhythmias

Irregular heartbeats can be fatal.  During cardiac surgery, one often uses intravenous infusions of  MgSO4 to get the heart back pumping after being artificially stopped for the surgical procedure.

Included in this category is the prolongation of the QT interval, an unhealthy condition that may be aggravated or brought on by hypomagnesemia.  Torsades de pointes is a related condition that is treatable with magnesium (Touyz RM, 2004 - PMID: 14977544).

Hypomagnesemia and hypokalemia have been shown to contribute to ventricular tachycardia (see e.g. Ref. on Gitelman's Syndrome by E. Nakane et al. (2004). 

Genetic conditions that may be pre-disposing to any of the foregoing conditions are yet to be evaluated. For further treatment of genetics see the Genomics pages.

Endothelial Dysfunction

Endothelial dysfunction: Vascular endothelial cells line the walls of arteries where they are in contact with the blood that flows through the circulatory system. Normally functioning vascular endothelium promotes vasodilation when needed, for example, during exercise, and inhibits the formation of blood clots. With cardiovascular disease, arteries develop atherosclerotic plaque. Atherosclerosis impairs normal endothelial function, increasing the risk of vasoconstriction and clot formation, which may lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Recent research indicates that pharmacologic doses of oral magnesium may improve endothelial function in individuals with cardiovascular disease. A randomized double blind placebo -controlled trial in 50 men and women with stable coronary artery disease found that 6 months of oral magnesium supplementation (730 mg/day) resulted in a 12% improvement in flow-mediated vasodilation compared to placebo (18). In other words, the normal dilation response of the brachial (arm) artery to increased blood flow was improved. Magnesium supplementation also resulted in increased exercise tolerance during an exercise stress test compared to placebo. In another study of 42 patients with coronary artery disease who were already taking low dose aspirin (an inhibitor of platelet aggregation), 3 months of oral magnesium supplementation (800-1,200 mg/day) improved some laboratory measures of the propensity of their blood to form clots (19). Although preliminary, these studies suggest that magnesium may be of benefit in improving endothelial function in individuals with cardiovascular diseases. From the Micronutrient Information Center,  Jane Higdon, Ph.D. at Oregon State University.

For a general treatment of diseases of the endothelium, see the website of The Endothelium Association.

Kidney and Electrolyte Homeostasis

The kidneys play a key role in maintaining proper blood pressure through the regulation of ion levels in the blood.  There are key sites for Mg, Ca, Na and K transport. Recently there is much interest in proteins that help with the transport of Ca and Mg such as TRPM6/7 in the kidney as well as in smooth muscle.  See references from Quamme, et al.

 

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