Tuesday, March 26, 2013. An article published online on March 13, 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports the finding of researchers in the Netherlands of an association between higher urinary magnesium levels and a lower risk of ischemic heart disease.
The study included 7,664 men and women enrolled in the Prevention of Renal and Vascular End-Stage Disease (PREVEND) study, which is a prospective investigation of albuminuria and renal and cardiovascular disease among residents of Groningen, Netherlands. Urinary magnesium excretion levels from samples obtained upon enrollment from 1997 to 1998 were utilized as a marker of magnesium intake. The subjects were followed for a median of 10.5 years, during which 462 ischemic heart disease events occurred.
Men and women whose urinary magnesium was among the lowest 20% of subjects had an increase in the risk of ischemic heart disease that was 60% higher than the remainder of the participants, and a risk of fatal ischemic heart disease that was 70% higher. Authors Michel M. Joosten and his colleagues remark that reduced magnesium intake can result in cardiac arrhythmias that can cause sudden cardiac death. Additionally, magnesium helps inhibit platelet aggregation and enhance the synthesis of nitric oxide, which helps relax the blood vessels. Furthermore, increased magnesium intake has been associated with a lower risk of diabetes—a disease that significantly elevates the risk of cardiovascular disease.
"Low urinary magnesium excretion as a marker of low dietary magnesium uptake was associated with an increased risk of ischemic heart disease in this prospective cohort of men and women," the authors conclude. "Given the substantial number of individuals who have inadequate magnesium intakes, an increased consumption of magnesium-rich foods, particularly by those with the lowest urinary magnesium excretion, may be a promising approach for the primary prevention of ischemic heart disease."
The American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session held in San Francisco March 9-11, 2013 was the site of a presentation of the finding of John Carlquist, PhD of Intermountain Medical Center of a correlation between longer telomeres and increased survival in people with heart disease. Telomeres are bits of DNA that cap the ends of chromosomes and protect them from damage.
"Chromosomes by their nature get shorter as we get older," explained Dr Carlquist, who is the director of the Intermountain Heart Institute Genetics Lab. "Once they become too short, they no longer function properly, signaling the end of life for the cell. And when cells reach this stage, the patient's risk for age-associated diseases increases dramatically."
The study utilized DNA obtained from over 3,500 individuals diagnosed with myocardial infarction or stroke, whose samples were part of an archive of close to 30,000 cardiac patients. The subjects were followed for up to 20 years, during which any deaths were recorded. "With so many samples and very complete electronic records, it's a unique resource," Dr Carlquist remarked.
"Our research shows that if we statistically adjust for age, patients with longer telomeres live longer, suggesting that telomere length is more than just a measure of age, but may also indicate the probability for survival," he reported. "Longer telomere length directly correlates with the likelihood for a longer life—even for patients with heart disease."
"I believe telomere length could be used in the future as a way to measure the effectiveness of heart care treatment," he predicted. "We can already test cholesterol and blood pressure of a patient to see how treatment is working, but this could give us a deeper view into how the treatment is affecting the body and whether or not the treatment is working."
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