How does hypomagnesemia affect blood pressure regulation?

Updated: Oct 30, 2020
  • Author: Tibor Fulop, MD, PhD, FACP, FASN; Chief Editor: Vecihi Batuman, MD, FASN  more...
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It has been suggested that magnesium plays a role in blood pressure regulation, its therapeutic efficacy in the hypertensive syndromes of pregnancy having been demonstrated in the 19th century. Hypertension appears to be uniformly characterized by a decrease in intracellular free magnesium that, due to increased vascular tone and reactivity, causes an increase in total peripheral resistance.

At a cellular level, increased intracellular calcium content is believed to account for this increased tone and reactivity. This increased cytosolic calcium concentration may be secondary to decreased activation of calcium channels, which may enhance calcium current into cells, decrease calcium efflux from cells, increase cellular permeability to calcium, or decrease sarcoplasmic reticulum reuptake of intracellularly released calcium.

Whatever the cause, intracellular accumulation leads to activation of actin-myosin contractile proteins, which increase vascular tone and total peripheral resistance. In contrast to experimental cellular physiology data supporting a role for magnesium deficiency in hypertension, results from clinical epidemiologic studies have failed to confirm a relationship, and results from clinical trials examining the hypotensive effects of magnesium supplementation have been conflicting. Noticeably, in the DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (rich in potassium and magnesium) resulted in lowering of blood pressure. [45] Larger, carefully performed, randomized clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings.

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