Magnesium affects blood pressure by modulating vascular tone and reactivity. It acts as a calcium channel antagonist, it stimulates production of vasodilator prostacyclins and nitric oxide and it alters vascular responses to vasoactive agonists. Magnesium deficiency has been implicated in the pathogenesis of hypertension with epidemiological and experimental studies demonstrating an inverse correlation between blood pressure and serum magnesium levels.
Magnesium also influences glucose and insulin homeostasis, and hypomagnesemia is associated with metabolic syndrome. Although most epidemiological and experimental studies support a role for low magnesium in the pathophysiology of hypertension, data from clinical studies have been less convincing. Furthermore, the therapeutic value of magnesium in the management of hypertension is unclear. The present review addresses the role of magnesium in the regulation of vascular function and blood pressure and discusses the implications of magnesium deficiency in experimental and clinical hypertension, in metabolic syndrome and in pre-eclampsia.