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Stroke

Could magnesium deficiency lead to stroke?

02/16/2006

Question:

I a 55 year old female and have had headaches 2-6 times a week all my life. I just discovered that by taking 400mg of magnesium daily I get virtually no headaches. I read that, according to a review in "Clinical Neuroscience," a magnesium deficiency can lead to blood vessle constriction. Now I am wondering what other damage to my blood vessels has been going on all the years that I have had this magnesium deficiency that might make me a stroke candidate, and if I should see a vascular specialist based on this one consideration? I also have Mitral Valve Prolapse. I have no current relationship with a cardiologist. Do I need to be checked regarding this? A company called "Life Line Screening" (www.lifelinescreening.com) has a test called Stroke Screening/Carotid Artery that tests the arteries for plaque build-up in the carotid artery that could lead to a stroke. Are these tests useful and accurate and is the company well respected for these tests? I am trying to decide whether to sign up for the test for Feb. 25,2006. Please give me your recommendation prior to that date if possible. Thanks!

Answer:

I am glad that your headaches are less frequent with magnesium. There are certain cerebrovascular conditions in which magnesium is known to play a role, such as eclampsia (a complication in some pregnancies) and in "reversible leukoencephalopathies", neither of which I will explain further. Having said that, there is no convincing scientific literature that a "magnesium deficiency" (the term is somewhat debatable) is related to stroke in the long term. I do not feel that you need to see a neurologist or a cardiologist unless you have experienced neurologic symptoms or cardiac symptoms. As for the Life Line Screening, I think that this is not necessary for you at this time. I would recommend that you see your primary care physician annually, and work with him/her to evaluate your health and risk factors for stroke and cardiac disease, such as hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Doing so, in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet and exercise, will be the best way to prevent heart disease and stroke. I hope this helps.

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Response by:

Brett   Kissela, MD Brett Kissela, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Director, Neurology Residency Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati