Significance of magnesium in congestive heart failure

Am Heart J. 1996 Sep;132(3):664-71. doi: 10.1016/s0002-8703(96)90253-7.


Electrolyte balance has been regarded as a factor important to cardiovascular stability, particularly in congestive heart failure. Among the common electrolytes, the significance of magnesium has been debated because of difficulty in accurate measurement and other associated factors, including other electrolyte abnormalities. The serum magnesium level represents < 1% of total body stores and does not reflect total-body magnesium concentration, a clinical situation very similar to that of serum potassium. Magnesium is important as a cofactor in several enzymatic reactions contributing to stable cardiovascular hemodynamics and electrophysiologic functioning. Its deficiency is common and can be associated with risk factors and complications of heart failure. Typical therapy for heart failure (digoxin, diuretic agents, and ACE inhibitors) are influenced by or associated with significant alteration in magnesium balance. Magnesium therapy, both for deficiency replacement and in higher pharmacologic doses, has been beneficial in improving hemodynamics and in treating arrhythmias. Magnesium toxicity rarely occurs except in patients with renal dysfunction. In conclusion, the intricate role of magnesium on a biochemical and cellular level in cardiac cells is crucial in maintaining stable cardiovascular hemodynamics and electrophysiologic function. In patients with congestive heart failure, the presence of adequate total-body magnesium stores serve as an important prognostic indicator because of an amelioration of arrhythmias, digitalis toxicity, and hemodynamic abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / drug therapy
  • Electrophysiology
  • Heart Failure / drug therapy
  • Heart Failure / etiology
  • Heart Failure / physiopathology*
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Magnesium / analysis
  • Magnesium / blood
  • Magnesium / physiology*
  • Magnesium / therapeutic use
  • Magnesium Deficiency / complications
  • Magnesium Deficiency / physiopathology
  • Potassium / blood
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance


  • Magnesium
  • Potassium