The importance of magnesium for heart health (Pt. 2)
Heart benefits of magnesium
Some of the many benefits of magnesium in heart disease are as follows:
- Antiarrhythmic properties
- Controls flow of calcium into the heart cell ( like a calcium channel blocker effect)
- Improvement of cholesterol
- Improvement of vasodilation of coronary arteries
- Inhibition of clot formation in coronary arteries
- Protection against free-radical damage
- Reduction of blood lipid levels
- Maintenance of vascular tone
- Improvement in energy synthesis and turnover
Similarly, Dr. Sinatra asserts there is a direct link between magnesium intake and a lower incidence of diseases, like type 2 diabetes and a variety of heart conditions:
- Arrhythmias and sudden death
- Atrial fibrillation
- Arterioesclerotic heart disease
- Congestive heart failure
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Mitral valve prolapse
According to him, magnesium, because it improves the metabolic efficiency of heart cells, alleviates chest pain and other symptoms of angina that are due to lack of oxygen and energy in the heart. It is particularly helpful when ischemia is caused by spasm of the coronary vessels, because it helps to relax the muscle walls of the arteries directly. It works as a natural calcium channel blocker, it nurtures the heart during the acute phase of a heart attack, lowers blood pressure, and eases many dangerous cardiac arrhythmias. Dr. Sinatra has even used intravenous magnesium for his patients with migraine headaches.
Cardiac and non-cardiac concerns
Clinical conditions in which magnesium has been found to have an important role are: Angina, arrhythmias, atherosclerotic heart disease, cerebrovascular atherosclerosis and stroke, congestive heart failure, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, asthma, insulin resistance and diabetes. We will look at each individually:
Magnesium deficiency is associated with a higher risk of angina. Some researchers from Japan studied 12 women with different levels of this condition. Results from this study demonstrated that women with more angina attacks had lower magnesium levels in their red blood cells than those experiencing fewer attacks. This indicated two things: one, deficiency in magnesium was directly linked to more angina attacks and two, the level of deficiency was directly related to the frequency of chest pain.
Arrhythmia and sudden death
In a double-blinded placebo controlled crossover study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 22 post-menopausal women were given a diet with different amounts of magnesium. Patients’ heartbeats were constantly being monitored for 21 hours and magnesium levels were analyzed in red blood cells, blood plasma and urine. The patients that were on a low magnesium diet, had an increase in both supraventricular and ventricular ectopic hearts. The conclusion of this study suggested that 130 mg is a very low dose but 320 mg was acceptable.
Atherosclerotic heart disease
Research in this area has shown that magnesium intake provides some kind of protection, depending on how much was ingested. Studies have proved that increased intake of dietary magnesium was associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, while those who consumed the least magnesium were almost twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those who consumed the most magnesium. Other studies have also confirmed the protective effect of dietary magnesium in developing heart disease.
Cerebrovascular atherosclerosis and stroke
Cerebrovascular atherosclerosis refers to blocked blood vessels in the brain and it is also associated with magnesium deficiency. Low levels of cellular magnesium in the brain increases the risk of neurological events. In one study, 323 patients with peripheral artery disease and poor circulation in the extremities were followed for an average of 20 months as the atherosclerotic plaque from the carotid artery was being removed. Over the 20 month period, 35 of the 323 patients suffered a stroke and/or underwent a carotid revascularization procedure. Those patients supplementing with the lowest amount of magnesium had 3 times increased risk for neurological events compared to the patients in the highest spectrum.
Congestive heart failure
A study done with 404 congestive heart failure patients, who had been treated with a diuretic for at least 3 months, were included in the study. 12% of the participants were found to be deficient in magnesium, only 4 % had high levels. Factors associated with magnesium deficiency were female gender, diabetes, calcium deficiency and high fever.
High blood pressure
We have seen how increased resistance in the peripheral blood vessels is the main contributing factor for the development of high blood pressure. Small changes in magnesium levels may have large effects on vascular tone, which directly affects blood pressure.
In an animal study the effects of low magnesium on high blood pressure were studied. In the low magnesium group, after 5 weeks, blood pressure was severely elevated, blood vessels had constricted and showed high levels of free radical formation. The conclusion from this study was that chronic magnesium deficiency leads to the development of severe hypertension, endothelial dysfunction and free-radical stress.
The results of this study were extended to a human study involving childbearing aged women, who were divided into 3 groups: 12 were non-pregnant, 11 in the third trimester of pregnancy and seven women had pre-eclempsia. Compared with the non-pregnant women, brain and muscle magnesium levels were lower both in those who were pregnant and those with pre-eclempsia, the latter had the lowest levels of all. In all groups blood pressure was inversely related to brain magnesium levels. This study although small, supports the observations Dr. Sinatra has made connecting low magnesium to high blood pressure.
Insulin resistance/metabolic syndrome
Unstable blood sugar is another condition that is becoming very prevalent. This simple nutrient, magnesium, can protect against blood sugar fluctuations, and type 2 diabetes. More and more studies document a high occurrence of low magnesium in people with diabetes, as well as those with insulin resistance (also known as Syndrome X). In a recent trial study of 63 patients with type 2 diabetics with decreased magnesium blood levels, oral supplementation improved both conditions.
The ‘Women’s Health Study‘ involved a population of 39,345 women in the US age 45 or older, with no previous history of heart disease, cancer or type 2 diabetes. For 2 years of follow-up, 920 women developed diabetes, an inverse result was seen with those that supplemented with magnesium. As magnesium levels went down, the cases of diabetes went up. There was also a direct correlation in the amount of magnesium taken and the level of protection obtained.
Another similar studies, the ‘Nurses Health Study’ and the ‘Health professional follow-up study’ provide us with similar data. In these two, 85,060 women and 42,872 men with no history of heart disease, cancer or diabetes, were followed for 18 to 12 years respectively. Evidence from this study showed that increasing the intake of magnesium slashed the risk for diabetes by 33-34%.
Many patients with insulin resistance also have what is considered the typical metabolic trio of insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides. Dr. Sinatra has found that magnesium can lower high risk triglycerides and is associated with a ‘modestly lower risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, …(and) mitral valve prolapse.’
Mitral valve prolapse
Mitral valve prolapse is a benign condition of the mitral valve, which is between the left atrium and the left ventricle which is named after its shape (like a bishop’s mitre). Sometimes the mitral valves become thickened, or stretched causing a slight to severe leakage of the valve. This can cause symptoms ranging from chest discomforts to irregular heartbeat. Magnesium has also shown considerable efficacy in relieving symptoms of mitral valve prolapse. Participants in a study with low levels of magnesium were randomly assigned to receive magnesium supplement or a placebo. The results of the magnesium group were dramatic, showing a reduction of the number of symptoms: less weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations and even anxiety. Decreases in the amount of adrenalin-like substances in the urine were noted as well.
The conclusions from this study were as follows: many patients with severe symptoms have a low serum of magnesium levels. Supplementation with magnesium leads to an improvement in symptoms and a decrease in adrenalin-like hormones. For these individuals, magnesium supplementation may be the solution for reducing symptomatology and improving quality of life.
Dr. Sinatra has seen an improvement in symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and palpitations up to 70-80%, this might be due to an improvement in diastolic dysfunction.
In another study with 49 patients compared to 30 healthy individuals, the effect of magnesium was studied. The concentration of magnesium was measured in blood plasma and in lymphocytes isolated from venous blood. The blood plasma level of magnesium was similar in both groups, but in patients with MVP the lymphocyte magnesium concentration was much lower than it was for healthy subjects, suggesting that magnesium deficiency was part of the MVP syndrome.
This study also points to the fact that blood measurement for magnesium might miss a deficiency in the cells of tissues. For patients with MVP, ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure or hypertension Dr. Sinatra recommends to supplement with magnesium as well as a diet in green leafy vegetables.
Concluding, magnesium is a very important mineral not only for heart health but for the whole body. Together with a healthy diet, D-Ribose, L-Carnitine and the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ we can greatly improve energy manufacture in heart cells. Without energy the heart cannot properly keep the rest of the body running. Take your heart to a new level by incorporating these into your routine. Thanks for reading.
(2) Sinatra, Stephen T. The Sinatra Solution: Metabolic Cardiology. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health, 2011. 179-192. Print.