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When does our heart risk?



What are the consequences of potassium and magnesium for the heart?

Many people suffer from a lack of minerals without knowing it. However, if there is a deficiency of potassium and magnesium, this can have dramatic effects on our health, the experts of the German Heart Foundation have warned in recent publications. Due to the increased risk, the level of potassium and magnesium should be monitored regularly by the physician, especially in cases of cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, kidney disease and the use of certain cardiac drugs.

Deficiency of potassium and magnesium favors atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias, experts from the German Heart Foundation. Therefore, it would be appropriate to remove an appropriate deficiency by supplying potassium and magnesium. However, many sufferers are unaware that their levels of these minerals are too low. Regular medical examinations would be especially appropriate for certain risk groups.

Deficiency of magnesium and potassium may have fatal heart effects. (Image: abhijith3747 / fotolia.com)

Minerals with a decisive influence on cardiac function

Potassium and magnesium are important for the normal function of the heart because they electrically stabilize the heart cells, explains the German Heart Foundation. Minerals form electrical impulses in the cardiac cells and are essential to transmit the signal between cells, the scientific society continues. "However, potassium and magnesium have a stabilized effect only if their concentration is normal," stressed Professor Dr. Honey. med. Andreas Goethe of the Scientific Advisory Board of the German Heart Foundation. The normal range of potassium is between 3.6 and 4.8 mmol / l, for magnesium from 0.7 to 1.05 mmol / l – with minor deviations depending on the laboratory method.

Increased susceptibility to cardiac arrhythmias

If it falls below the lower limit, the lack of potassium (hypokalemia) and deficiency of magnesium (hypomagnesaemia) in cells results in increased cell membrane excitability, resulting in increased additional strokes of the heart (extrasystoles), experts explain. The heart becomes more prone to arrhythmias in the atria (atrial fibrillation) and heart chambers. In the worst case, extreme deficiency of magnesium can promote life-threatening ventricular fibrillation.

Symptoms of deficiency of potassium and magnesium

Like other symptoms of potassium deficiency, it is called the German Heart Foundation, such as fatigue, muscle weakness and constipation. Magnesium deficiency can lead to symptoms such as muscle twitches, muscle weakness and muscle cramps.

When should levels of potassium and magnesium be controlled?

According to experts, regular blood and potassium and magnesium concentrations are particularly suitable for cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, kidney disease, and certain cardiac and hypertensive drugs to protect against possible complications, including atrial fibrillation and life-threatening arrhythmias such as is ventricular fibrillation.

It is also important for existing cardiac arrhythmias to adjust levels of potassium and magnesium "highly normal" (for example, up to a potassium value of 4.4 mmol / l and a magnesium value of 0.9 mmol / l). In some cases, cardiac rhythm disorders can be eliminated, but other reasons often need to be treated and the arrhythmia itself treated, explains Professor Goth.

Nutrition with significant influence

To compensate for the lack of potassium and magnesium, the altered diet can already make a significant contribution. Normally, the body gets enough potassium and magnesium from the diet. A good supplier of potassium are mainly dried apricots and dry bananas, as well as vegetables, such as potatoes, beans, peas, white beans and lentils, according to Professor Goethe. A good supplier of magnesium is dry fruits, beans, lentils, cereal products and walnuts.

Even heavy sweating can cause a lack of important minerals. (Photo: bernardbodo / fotolia.com)

Causes of minerals

However, according to the expert, kidney dysfunction, diarrhea, excessive use of laxatives, vomiting, fever and profuse sweating can contribute to significant loss of potassium and magnesium. For example, in patients with heart failure, the ingestion of water-containing diuretics can accelerate the loss of electrolytes. Other factors that can contribute to the decrease in levels of potassium and magnesium include summer heat, excessive alcohol consumption, diabetes, and bile duct disease.

Warning for unauthorized intake of magnesium and potassium

Although the lack of magnesium or potassium should be compensated for the increased susceptibility of cardiac muscle cells to arrhythmias, experts warn not to take potassium and magnesium supplements without medical consultation. "In principle, potassium and magnesium should be used only if a deficit is detected in the laboratory," stresses Professor Gotte. If the standard values ​​can not be achieved with a diet rich in magnesium and potassium, they are not dietary supplements, but the drugs to be used, the expert continued.

How is the defect repaired?

For potassium deficiency, potassium is best used as potassium chloride (40 mmol per day), as well as the lack of magnesium, magnesium aspartate or magnesium citrate (10 mmol per day). Professor Götte further explains that the calyx deficiency can be effectively compensated only if the levels of magnesium are in the normal range. Magnesium deficiency increases the symptoms of potassium deficiency.

Even elevated levels are harmful

The reverse variant – an excess of the two minerals – The German Heart Foundation reported that too high levels of magnesium are rare, while high levels of potassium are much more common. This is because the pacemaker and cardiac muscle cell excitability is reduced so that the heart strikes slower. With extremely high levels of potassium, the slowdown can go as far as the heart stops beating and a cardiac arrest appears.

What can lead to excessive levels of potassium and magnesium?

The German Heart Foundation mentions acute renal failure as the cause of excessive high blood potassium levels, as well as drugs used to treat hypertension and heart failure such as ACE inhibitors, sartans and, above all, aldosterone antagonists. Potassium-sparing diuretics can also increase levels of potassium. Therefore, potassium levels and renal function should be regularly monitored in these cases. For example, with diuretics or dialysis therapy, levels of potassium or magnesium may be reduced if potassium and magnesium levels that endanger life are present.

When do you take any medication to be monitored?

According to the German Heart Foundation, monitoring of potassium levels and kidney function is recommended when taking the following drugs:

  • Diuretics (dehydrator),
  • ACE inhibitors,
  • Sartan or ANI (Walsartan / Sacutitrile),
  • aldosterone antagonists,
  • potassium-sparing diuretics (dehydrated agents),
  • Preparations Digitalis (digoxin and digitoxin).

Controls should be performed prior to initiation of therapy, before the dose changes in the next two weeks, and then every six months. Monitoring the values ​​of potassium and magnesium is particularly important for patients with heart failure. Because with them the disorder of the heart rhythm can lead to dangerous deterioration of heart failure, in the worst case of heart failure, warns the Foundation for German Marrow. (FP)


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