In a few days i will be seeing a cardio specialist. I am still in astonishment how quickly and unexpectedly my life has changed. I’ve been doing a lot of research since and, even as a nurse in the field for 2 decades, it’s amazing how much i didn’t know about this condition- hypo-magnesia.
Sure, i knew it was possible to have low magnesium, along with any other body salts. Mostly i had seen low calcium and potassium while working in the hospital . I don’t believe i ever hung a bag of magnesium for any patient though. Mag Sulfate ( MgS04) is used for uncontrollable seizures and in maternity for pre-eclampsia( both emergencies situations) . I worked in a Critical Care unit, which is mainly where people go after ICU/Emergency departments for further ongoing treatment.
I have wondered almost everyday since i was admitted WHY i never thought about it much , and why i never put all the signs together. Now i feel compelled to share some of the information, because it isn’t something even primary care providers generally deal with.
First of all it only happens in about 2% of the population. The causes are listed as follows:
Starvation( i am not dieting or purging/ binging), use of diuretics or laxatives causing increased urinary output( i do not ), certain antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, and chemotherapy drugs( nope, nope and nope).Also acute diarrhea, and diseases that cause it such as Celiacs, Crones, Ulcerative Colitis , acute pancreatitis( not to my knowledge), diabetes ( all testing says no) and gastric bypass surgery( nope).I am constipated more often than not and rarely ever have diarrhea.You can also lose mag from drinking TOO much water because it causes excess urination, but i generally drink only 24 ounces or less a day.So, none of the usuals applied to to me . The doctors were just as stumped as i was and simply went on to test my heart and treat my symptoms. I am yet to find out if i suddenly have any of the listed diseases.
BUT HERE IS WHERE IT GETS INTERESTING:
Additionally listed is( drum roll)-Excess urinary depletion from alcohol dependency which is why i chose to write a post about it here. Although, I , personally, have never been ‘dependent’ on it to function daily and did fine without it, it was a weekly habit – once a week binging to be precise, for a long time. At the time of the event i had been AF for over a month. My blood work has always been fine, even during the height of my heaviest drinking ( years ago). Despite all of that, it still could have contributed. Yes, even years into recovery, and i was totally unaware of this.
“A comprehensive and critical review of the evidence relating magnesium (Mg) deficiency to alcohol consumption reveals several important types of interactions. First, alcohol acts acutely as a Mg diuretic, causing a prompt, vigorous increase in the urinary excretion of this metal along with that of certain other electrolytes. Second, with chronic intake of alcohol and development of alcoholism, the body stores of Mg become depleted. During the late stages of alcoholism, the urinary excretion of Mg may become diminished as a physiological response to reduced intake and reduction of body stores. A number of aspects of the clinical syndrome of alcoholism contribute to and intensify that already existing reduction in body Mg stores. Third, a number of manifestations of alcoholism are believed due to effects of Mg deficiency, and some therapeutic benefit has been suggested from treatment of alcoholic patients with Mg. Finally, relatively little attention has been paid to the possible value of Mg administration as a preventive measure to forestall or minimize the deleterious effects of chronic use of alcohol or to prevent the development of cancer than can occur in this setting.”- National Library of Medicine
Read more about it here( very very good article):
Magnesium Deficiency In Alcoholics And Alcohol Abusers
— apparently i am not the only one who was unaware of a connection.
In hindsight, i could have recognized the warning signs had i been more aware. My right eyelid ( strangely) was twitching constantly to the point of frustration for several months.My eye doctor was unconcerned. I was fatigued almost every day, had severe insomnia, muscle pain, and often experienced nausea/reflux. My regular doctor treated these individually. My usual heart palpitations which had been controlled easily with a small dosage of Metoprolol for years had started becoming more frequent, even with the medication. And my personality was certainly changed as i was having chronic anxiety as well as depression. All of these are symptoms.
Mostly, I chalked all of it up to pandemic stress, menopause, and getting older.I assumed these were just temporary and a part of life. If you notice, most of these symptoms are quite common, and almost no one would put them all together as a single diagnosis . Even my regular doctor didn’t connect the dots. Worse yet, looking back through all of my paperwork , i was not once tested for magnesium levels in all the years i had been getting blood work done, learning that it is not included on the complete metabolic profile ( the most common yearly bloodwork panel).It is so uncommon in the normally healthy population, that it isn’t deemed necessary.
“A normal serum (blood) magnesium level is 1.8 to 2.2 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). Serum magnesium lower than 1.8 mg/dL is considered low. A magnesium level below 1.25 mg/dL is considered very severe hypomagnesemia. I was at 1.2 upon admission. Dangerously low levels of magnesium have the potential to cause fatal cardiac arrhythmias. Moreover, hypomagnesemia in patients with acute myocardial infarction puts them at higher risk of ventricular arrhythmias within the first 24 hours.”-physio-pedia.com
But if it wasn’t related to alcoholism- how else could i have ended up with it?
According to another website( listing non medical reasons):
1.eating a typical American diet
2.regularly drinking caffeinated beverages, soda, or alcohol.
3.drinking soft water
4.taking calcium supplements
5.experiencing constant or chronic stress
Boom. I hit 4/5 (not taking calcium supplements). My diet had been horrible since the pandemic- eating mostly comfort foods and very little nutritious items. I drank coffee daily- about 3-4 cups.I found out my case family uses a water softener, and i do use their ice in my water. And my stress has been off the charts since May/June of 2020.
So given all of this my friends, sober or in recovery, i highly suggest considering getting tested. My event was as scary and sudden as they come.Until and if another cause is found it could happen again at any time.It was expensive. And could continue to be a problem for quite some time.I am still testing low despite supplements and eating more foods high in magnesium.
We tend to think of our liver in alcoholism.Or diabetes, or high blood pressure. But this is one thing we can get a handle on early in recovery if we know about it.