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Disorders of Magnesium Metabolism

Professor R Swaminathan, Department of Chemical Pathology, The Guy's, Kings College and St Thomas' Medical and Dental School, London, UK

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Magnesium plays an important role in many physiologic functions and disorders of magnesium homeostasis are common in hospital populations. As magnesium is mainly an intracellular ion, assessment of magnesium status is difficult. Of all the methods used for assessing magnesium status, the magnesium tolerance test is currently the best one. Hypomagnesemia, which is much more frequent than hypermagnesemia, is commonly caused by an increased gastrointestinal or renal loss of magnesium. Hypomagnesemia will lead to hypocalcemia and neuromuscular manifestations such as tetany, muscle weakness and cardiovascular effects such as arhythmias. If hypomagnesemia is detected, it should be treated to prevent development of complications.

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