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Magnesium Intake may Reduce the Risk of Fatal Coronary Heart Disease in Postmenopausal Women

A recent study finds that dietary magnesium intake is associated with the risk of both fatal coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death.

Among different age groups, postmenopausal women have the highest prevalence of cardiovascular disease, however, there is currently no clear understanding of the risk factors associated with coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death among women.

When it comes to heart function, magnesium plays a vital role in the proper functioning of heart cells.  In fact, low levels of magnesium have been associated with an irregular heartbeat (called arrhythmia). Although it is known that magnesium plays an essential role in heart function, previous studies assessing the beneficial effects of magnesium intake on cardiovascular health have had inconclusive findings.

A recent U.S. study investigated the effects of magnesium intake on the risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death. The study included 153,569 postmenopausal women aged between  50-79 years. Each participant filled out a food-frequency questionnaire at the beginning of the study. The questionnaire provided researchers with details of each participants’ diets from the previous three months. The occurrence of fatal coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death were measured an average of ten and a half years later. The results of the study were published in the Journal of Women’s Health.

The researchers found that participants with higher magnesium intake had lower risks of fatal coronary heart disease. Conversely, participants who consumed the least amount of magnesium were at higher risk of developing fatal coronary heart disease. A higher risk for sudden cardiac death (22%) was found in participants who had lower intakes of magnesium.

According to the authors, future research is necessary to not only confirm these results but also to determine whether using magnesium supplements could reduce these devastating effects.

Although taking magnesium supplements is not a current recommendation, the results of the study suggest that maintaining the recommended dietary intake of magnesium may be an important part of maintaining cardiac health. Depending on age and gender, current guidelines recommend between 310-400mg per day of dietary magnesium for healthy adults. Dietary sources rich in magnesium include legumes, nuts, seeds, fish and whole grains.

Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer

References:

Li, Jason, et al. “Association of Dietary Magnesium Intake with Fatal Coronary Heart Disease and Sudden Cardiac Death”. Journal of Women’s Health. 2019.

Could higher magnesium intake reduce fatal coronary heart disease risk in women? 2019, https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-12/mali-chm122319.php, assessed Dec 26th, 2019.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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