After a myocardial infarction: Drinking water with a low-magnesium content increases mortality

December 2016

The magnesium content of drinking water clearly has a major influence on the prognosis for heart attack patients. If these patients live in regions where the drinking water has low levels of magnesium, then they have a significantly higher mortality than those patients who consume drinking water with a higher magnesium content. This is the result of a recent Israeli study which was published in the “International Journal of Cardiology” (1).

Scientists compared data from over 4,600 heart attack patients who, during the period from 2002 – 2013, had taken part in an Israeli study of acute coronary syndrome (Acute Coronary Syndrome Israeli Survey, ACSI) to determine whether the consumption of desalinated sea water might have an influence on patient mortality following acute infarction. The reason for this survey was the hypothesis that the lack of magnesium in demineralised drinking water contributes to a magnesium deficiency, leading to an elevated cardiovascular risk. Whereas natural fresh water in Israel tends to be “hard” and consequently has a fairly high magnesium content of 20-25 mg/L, desalinated sea water contains only a very low level of magnesium, or in fact, contains no magnesium at all. However at present, it makes up 75% of the drinking water supply in Israel. It has actually been shown that in those regions which are supplied with low-magnesium drinking water, significantly fewer patients were still alive one year after an acute heart attack than in those regions where hard drinking water is consumed. The 30-day survival rate after cardiac infarction was also significantly lower in the low-magnesium drinking water group.

In a sub-group (n= 211), magnesium concentrations in the blood serum were investigated. The results of this investigation confirmed that the consumption of drinking water with low magnesium content is associated with significantly lower serum magnesium levels. It was only recently that a study has again shown that low serum magnesium levels are associated with an elevated risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death (2).

Magnesium deficiency is also wide-spread in Germany
Even if demineralised drinking water is not consumed in Germany, these findings must be taken seriously according to scientists from the Gesellschaft für Biofaktoren (GfB (Society for Biofactors)). “Even here at home, a deficiency is not uncommon”, explains the chairman of the GfB, Prof. Hans-Georg Classen from Stuttgart-Hohenheim University. In a survey of 16,000 random unselected participants, 14.5% had a magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesaemia) and 33.7% showed suboptimal concentrations of less than 0.80 mmol/L (3). In individuals with an elevated cardiovascular risk, the percentage is even higher. “Around one in three diabetics is deficient in magnesium. Also, high blood pressure is often associated with a lack of this mineral”, Classen states. Diseases such as diabetes and medication like diuretics can cause significant losses of this mineral, which cannot usually be replaced solely by diet and drinking water. This problem is aggravated by the fact that many people do not consume enough magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, wholegrain products and pulses. For this reason, the scientists from the Gesellschaft für Biofaktoren recommend that individuals with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease in particular keep a close eye on their magnesium supply and that they make up for any deficits by taking a supplement.

(1) Meital Shlezinger, Yona Amitai, Ilan Goldenberg, Michael Shechter, Desalinated seawater supply and all-cause mortality in hospitalized acute myocardial infarction patients from the Acute Coronary Syndrome Israeli Survey 2002–2013, Int. J. Cardiol., 220 (2016) 544-550.
B.C. Kieboom, M.N. Niemeijer, M.J. Leening, et al., Serum magnesium and the risk of death from coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death, J. Am. Heart Assoc. 22 (2016) 5(1).
(3) Schimatschek HF et al, Prevalence of hypomagnesemia in an unselected German population of 16 000 individuals. Magnes Res 2001, 14: 283-290.