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Magnesium and CardioVascular Health

Magnesium and Cardiovascular Health

Compiled by Dr Mir Atta M. Talpur; and based on literature review of various publicly available credible medical and scientific sources.

Magnesium is essential for the normal functioning of our heart and its system. It has been labelled by its proponents as 'the Ultimate Heart Medicine' as it could positively influence the lives of thousands if not millions of people and their families!

Let’s start with this quoted text which rightly portrays the importance of the magnesium: “Every organ in the body -- especially the heart, muscles, and kidneys -- needs the mineral magnesium. It also contributes to the makeup of teeth and bones. Most important, it activates enzymes, contributes to energy production, and helps regulate calcium levels, as well as copper, zinc, potassium, vitamin D, and other important nutrients in the body”. Source: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/magnesium-000313.htm#ixzz2KlcVPMhj

Three things Magnesium do

  1. Prevents spasm of the coronary arteries (arteries of heart) - thereby preventing myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  2. Prevents spasm of peripheral blood vessels - thereby preventing hypertension (high blood pressure)
  3. Prevents calcium buildup in cholesterol plaque in arteries - thereby preventing atherosclerosis (clogging of arteries)

Conditions of Irregular Heartbeat and Sudden Death 

According to the same article, magnesium supplementation may enhance the effectiveness of the conventional treatments of various conditions. Among others, these include cardiac arrhythmia, heart failure and high blood pressure. The article sites many studies to highlight “a possible association between a modestly lower risk of CHD in men and increased magnesium intake”. According to the findings of a study “Plasma and dietary magnesium and risk of sudden cardiac death in women” by Stephanie E Chiuve et al, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, (2011 February; 93(2): 253–260., PMCID: PMC3021423), “in the prospective cohort of women, higher plasma concentrations and dietary magnesium intakes were associated with lower risks of SCD [Sudden Cardiac Death].” According to the study, “If the observed association is causal, interventions directed at increasing dietary or plasma magnesium might lower the risk of SCD”.

Patients suffering from congestive heart disease are often at risk of developing irregular heartbeat. And since magnesium is beneficial for such arrhythmias, doctors may include magnesium in treatment of such a health condition. 

According to the findings of a study “Tissue magnesium levels and the arrhythmic substrate in humans.” by Haigney MC et al, published in J Cardiovasc Electrophysiol. 1997 Sep;8(9):980-6., (1997 Sep;8(9):980-6., PMID: 9300294), “Reduced tissue magnesium stores may represent a significant risk factor for arrhythmias associated with abnormal repolarization, particularly in patients with poor left ventricular systolic function...”.


"Angina is chest pain or discomfort that occurs if an area of your heart muscle doesn't get enough oxygen-rich blood." It is a symptom of some underlying disease and cause can be narrowing of coronary arteries due to atherosclerosis or spasmodic narrowing of the smooth muscles.

Magnesium supplementation is often found useful in management of angina pectoris. As magnesium is important for energy production, it improves the function of heart muscles as well as reduces the risk of spasm and constriction in coronary arteries. A randomized  double blind placebo controlled trial “Effects of Oral Magnesium Therapy on Exercise Tolerance, Exercise-Induced Chest Pain, and Quality of Life in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease” by Michael Shechter et al, in the US, Israel, and Austria, published in the American Journal of Cardiology under title (Am J Cardiol 2003;91:517–521), concluded that magnesium supplement taken for six months lessened the exercise induced angina and increased exercise duration. The underlined effects of the beneficial effects of magnesium are linked to 
  1. improved intracellular ATP production and glucose utilization, 
  2. Calcium blocking action which protects cell against calcium overload under conditions of ischemia, and 
  3. reduction of systemic and pulmonary vascular resistance with concomitant decrease in blood pressure and increase in cardiac index.
According to the findings of a study “Effect of magnesium sulphate in patients with unstable angina. A double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study.” by Redwood SR, Bashir Y, Huang J, Leatham EW, Kaski JC, Camm AJ.of Department of Cardiological Sciences, St George's Hospital Medical School, London, published in Eur Heart J. 1997 Aug;18(8):1269-77, PMID: 9458419), “Intravenous magnesium reduces ischaemic ECG changes, creatine kinase-MB release and urinary catecholamine excretion in the acute phase of unstable angina....”.


Atherosclerosis is a serious disease caused by the accumulation of harmful plaque in the coronary arteries. It is the primary cause of the disease that leads to narrowing of the lumen of the coronary blood vessels, thus decreasing the blood flow to the heart muscles. It also leads to high blood pressure. Several medical studies have found magnesium to be beneficial in this condition. 

Actually, the subendothelial layer of the coronary arteries has elastin that imparts springiness to the coronary arteries allowing these blood vessels to expand and adjust with each systole and diastole of heart pumping. Magnesium is required to maintain healthy elastin. One of the first sign of magnesium deficiency is degeneration of elastin. 

One layer of the coronary artery wall is formed by smooth muscles. These smooth muscles require calcium to contract and magnesium to relax. Nitric Oxide, the final messenger of the dilatation is also said to be dependent on the magnesium.  When the arterial wall gets injured, white blood cells accumulate along with fatty cholesterol and if magnesium is not enough, the calcium may precipitate at the site of inflammation, leading to rigidity of vessel wall and plaque formation, which thus narrows the lumen and interferes with the blood flowing towards the heart muscles.

According to the study “Associations of dietary magnesium intake with mortality from cardiovascular disease: the JACC study” by Zhang W, Iso H, Ohira T, Date C, and Tamakoshi A, of Department of Social and Environmental Medicine, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine and published in the journal Atherosclerosis (2012 Apr;221(2):587-95. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.01.034. Epub 2012 Jan 28), "Dietary magnesium intake was inversely associated with mortality from hemorrhagic stroke in men and with mortality from total and ischemic strokes, coronary heart disease, heart failure and total cardiovascular disease in women." The study concludes that the dietary magnesium intake was associated with reduced mortality from cardiovascular disease in Japanese, especially for women.  

According to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center of the Oregon State University, "the risk of developing hypertension in both men and women decreased as serum magnesium levels increased, but the trend was only statistically significant in women. Although the investigators found no association between dietary magnesium and the incidence of hypertension, they suggested that low serum magnesium levels may play a modest role in the development of hypertension." Reference: Peacock JM, Folsom AR, Arnett DK, Eckfeldt JH, Szklo M. Relationship of serum and dietary magnesium to incident hypertension: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Ann Epidemiol. 1999;9(3):159-165. PMID: 10192647.

Magnesium thus plays crucial role in prevention of both atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis. It is responsible for 
  • Elasticity of artery’s wall
  • Dilatation of blood vessels (Nitric oxide does it under the commands of magnesium)
  • Calcium deposit prevention
  • Healthy muscles (including heart muscles)

How much magnesium?

According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD ND, a highly respected medical authority on the subject, research over more than 20 years and author of book, The Magnesium Miracle, indicates that approximately 300 mg of magnesium is required to replace daily losses! Dr. Shari Lieberman, Certified Nutrition Specialist, FACN, mentions 500-750 mg of magnesium daily for men and women, and 500-1000 mg for those suffering from angina.

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