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An update on the importance of monitoring serum magnesium in advanced disease patients

Centeno, Carlosa; López Saca, José Mariob

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: December 2013 - Volume 7 - Issue 4 - p 396–405
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0b013e32836575e3
END-OF-LIFE MANAGEMENT: Edited by Gustavo de Simone
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Purpose of review Patients with advanced diseases are exposed to many causes of hypomagnesaemia, the most frequent being pharmacological causes through the administration of chemotherapy, antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, and so on. The objective of this review is to demonstrate the importance of measuring magnesium levels in the blood of these patients.

Recent findings In the last decade, studies have been published showing a direct relationship between low levels of magnesium and nonspecific symptoms including pain that is difficult to control. Nevertheless, hypomagnesaemia is still being omitted as a differential diagnosis in many such patients.

Summary A review of recently published studies regarding the clinical presentation of hypomagnesaemia in patients with advanced cancer and other chronic diseases is presented. Many of the clinical conditions are reportedly alleviated with intravenous or even oral magnesium administration. The presence of nonspecific neurological signs and risk factors for hypomagnesaemia could serve as an indication that serum magnesium should be determined in these patients.

aPalliative Care Unit, Clinic University of Navarra

bUniversity of Navarra, Institute for Culture and Society (ICS), ATLANTES Research Program: Human Dignity, Advance Disease and Palliative Care, Pamplona, Spain

Correspondence to José Mario López Saca, MD, Clínica Universidad de Navarra, Avda. Pio XII 36, 31008 Pamplona, Spain. Tel: +00 34 948255400; fax: +00 34 948255500; e-mail: mariolopezsaca@gmail.com

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins