Author + information
- Received October 11, 1995
- Revision received February 5, 1996
- Accepted February 14, 1996
- Published online June 1, 1996.
- Céline Fiset, PhD,
- Margaret E. Kargacin, PhD,
- Colleen S. Kondo, AHT,
- Wanda M. Lester, MD and
- Henry J. Duff, MD∗
- ↵∗Address for correspondence: Dr. Henry J. Duff, Cardiovascular Research Group, Health Sciences Centre, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, T2N 4N1, Canada.
Objectives. We sought to compare the incidence of sudden death in rats treated with magnesium-deficient and control diets and to address the electrophysiologic characteristics associated with these end points.
Background. Although magnesium deficiency is associated with an increased incidence of sudden cardiac death in patients, there has been no clear cause and effect relation because of a number of covariables, including diuretic use, hypokalemia, digitalis use and left ventricular dysfunction.
Methods. Hypomagnesemic rats and their paired control rats underwent in vivo electrophysiologic studies and measurements of the total calcium and magnesium content of their cardiac ventricles.
Results. Serum magnesium levels were 0.5 ± 0.3 mEq/liter (mean ± SD) in hypomagnesemic animals and 1.2 ± 0.9 mEq/liter in control animals. A modest but significant prolongation of the repolarization time was seen at the apical epicardial site (83 ± 8 ms in hypomagnesemic rats vs. 68 ± 13 ms in control rats, p < 0.05), but not at the other sites studied. Bradyarrhythmias and tachyrrhytmias were observed in 82% of the hypomagnesemic rats during the in vivo electrophysiologic studies, compared with 0% in the control group. During these studies, sudden, unexpected asystolic deaths were observed in 4 of 11 hypomagnesemic rats and 0 of 8 control rats. Polymorphic nonsustained ventricular tachycardia was provoked by rapid pacing in 5 of 11 hypomagnesemic rats and 0 of 8 control rats. Three of six hypomagnesemic rats exposed to auditory stimuli developed seizures, followed immediately by sudden deaths—two due to asystole and one due to ventricular fibrillation—although no end points occurred in the control animals.
Conclusions. In this model, magnesium deficiency results in sudden cardiac death. The presence of startle induction of sudden death preceded by seizures suggests that sudden cardiac death results from a neurologic trigger.
☆ This work was supported by the Medical Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Dr. Fiset is a Medical Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow, and Dr. Duff is a Medical Scientist from the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
- Received October 11, 1995.
- Revision received February 5, 1996.
- Accepted February 14, 1996.