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Magnesium Deficiency in Patients on Long-Term Diuretic Therapy for Heart Failure

Br Med J 1972; 3 doi: (Published 09 September 1972) Cite this as: Br Med J 1972;3:620
  1. Pin Lim,
  2. Edward Jacob


    Magnesium levels in serum, erythrocytes, skeletal muscle, and bone were measured in 10 patients with valvular heart disease who had received diuretic therapy for heart failure for an average of 3·3 years. Five patients were found to have diminished values for skeletal muscle, indicating significant magnesium deficit. Values for erythrocytes were low in only two of the five patients, and none had low values for serum ultrafiltrate and bone: Magnesium replacement therapy restored skeletal muscle values to normal. Clinical features consistent with the presence of magnesium deficiency were found in all five magnesium-deficient patients. These features were, with few exceptions, corrected by magnesium replacement. The latter also corrected low skeletal muscle potassium values present in all five patients with low skeletal muscle magnesium, four of whom showed clinical features of digoxin poisoning before magnesium therapy was given. Concomitant secondary aldosteronism, inadequate dietary intake, and digoxin therapy had probably augmented the magnesium loss due to diuretic therapy.