Magnesium (Mg), also known as "the forgotten electrolyte", is the fourth most abundant cation overall and the second most abundant intracellular cation in the body. Mg deficiency has been implicated in the pathophysiology of many diseases. This article is a review of the literature regarding Mg abnormalities with emphasis on the implications of hypomagnesemia in critical illness and on treatment options for hypomagnesemia in critically ill patients with sepsis. Hypomagnesemia is common in critically ill patients, and there is strong, consistent clinical evidence, largely from observational studies, showing that hypomagnesemia is significantly associated with increased need for mechanical ventilation, prolonged ICU stay and increased mortality. Although the mechanism linking hypomagnesemia with poor clinical outcomes is not known, experimental data suggest mechanisms contributing to such outcomes. However, at the present time, there is no clear evidence that magnesium supplementation improves outcomes in critically ill patients with hypomagnesemia. Large, well-designed clinical trials are needed to evaluate the role of magnesium therapy for improving outcomes in critically ill patients with sepsis.
Keywords: Critical illness; Hypomagnesemia; Magnesium; Mortality; Sepsis.