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How does magnesium acts as an antiarrhythmic drug ?

Posted Jan 13 2010 5:57am

Magnesium is a powerful cell membrane stabilizing agent. It is well recognized to act on the cerebral motor cortical cells and  suppress seizure , especially in eclampsia of pregnancy .

Mg SO4 is still the drug of choice for seizures of pregnancy. It  was soon realised  ,  the  molecular basis of  cellular excitability    is    similar  for  every cell  . And  thus , we got this  great antiarrhythmic drug !

  • Magnesium is a  cofactor in the enzyme Na /K ATPase in the myocyte cell membrane
  • Integrity of this enzyme is essential for proper maintenance of the intracellular potassium levels.
  • Many times hypokalemia can not be  fully corrected by administration of K + alone .
  • Co- administration of magnesium  increase the intracellular K +    and hyperpolarize the cells and make  it less excitable.
  • Further , magnesium competes with ca++  ions  to enter the cells and thus   it is a natural calcium blocker. This property also helps in controlling refractory calcium dependent  cardiac arrhythmia.

Indications for magnesium

  • Torsades de pointes . Note:  Magnesium does not shorten the QT interval significantly but still effective in torsades.
  • Any refractory VT especially , post MI.
  • Digoxin induced , hypokalemia dependent atrial tachycardias, MAT

It is administered 1-2mg boluses of 2-3 boluses.

Where we should not use magnesium ?

Routine Use of magnesium in recurrent non sustained VT following MI is not recommended .(Courtesy ISIS -4 trial )


Magnesium : Nature’s own calcium blocker


Some think ISIS 4 was a delibrate attempt to defame magnesium !

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