Magnesium and cardiac arrhythmias: nutrient or drug?

J Am Coll Nutr. 1986;5(6):521-32. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1986.10720154.


The antiarrhythmic potency of Mg has been described repeatedly since 1935, both as a factor in human disease and in animal experiments. Nevertheless, this therapeutic efficacy is rarely mentioned in textbooks. Both the pharmacological effect of Mg and the correction of Mg deficiency have been used in treatment of digitalis toxicity, variant angina, Torsades de Pointes, as well as in arrhythmia of unknown origin. Mg-deficiency can be caused by malabsorption or by excessive urinary loss. Both situations can occur on a congenital basis. The most frequent cause is probably alcoholism. Iatrogenic factors include digitalis, diuretics, gentamicin, as well as cisplatinum, which appreciably enhance urinary Mg loss. Correction of Mg-deficiency by parental and/or oral administration should lead to recovery. If the cause of the deficiency can be eliminated, once the deficit is repaired it may be acceptable to discontinue the supplement. However, the cause is often multifactorial, requiring further evaluation and treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / drug therapy*
  • Diet
  • Digitalis
  • Electrophysiology
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use*
  • Magnesium Deficiency / complications
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Plants, Toxic
  • Potassium / physiology


  • Magnesium
  • Potassium