Magnesium Intake Is Inversely Associated With Coronary Artery Calcification: The Framingham Heart Study

Study Questions:

What is the relationship between magnesium intake and coronary artery calcification (CAC) and abdominal aortic calcification (AAC)?


This study examined the relationship between self-reported magnesium intake in 2,695 participants of the Framingham Heart Study without known cardiovascular disease who underwent computed tomography (CT) imaging of the heart and abdomen. AAC and CAC were measured using the Agatston score from noncontrast CT studies, and magnesium intake was based on the Harvard semi-quantitative 126-item Food Frequency Questionnaire.


Across quartiles of magnesium intake (from lowest to highest), there was a significant decrease in mean CAC (p = 0.002) and mean AAC (p = 0.001). The presence of any CAC decreased with increased quartiles of magnesium intake (47%, 46%, 43%, 39%; p = 0.01), with a similar decrease in AAC observed (56%, 55%, 50%, 51%; p = 0.02). After adjusting for covariates, each 50 mg per day increase in magnesium intake was associated with a 22% decrease in CAC (p < 0.001) and a 12% lower AAC (p = 0.07). Amongst patients with the highest versus lowest magnesium intake, the odds of any CAC and any AAC were 58% lower (p < 0.001 for trend) and 34% lower (p = 0.01 for trend), respectively.


The authors concluded that increased magnesium intake was associated with decreased arterial calcification in asymptomatic individuals without known cardiovascular disease.


Increased magnesium intake has been observed to lower the risk of adverse cardiac events including stroke, nonfatal myocardial infarction, and cardiac death, and it is thought that increased magnesium may slow or prevent arterial calcification and plaque formation. The present findings suggest that increased calcium intake may be associated with a reduction in arterial calcification in a large population of asymptomatic individuals without known cardiovascular disease. Increased arterial calcification correlates with greater overall plaque burden, and has been robustly demonstrated to convey increased cardiovascular risk. Nevertheless, some research suggests that calcified plaque may be less vulnerable than mixed or noncalcified plaque, and this study cannot assess whether these other types of plaque are also decreased in patients with increased magnesium intake. These findings support the hypothesis that increased magnesium intake may reduce cardiovascular risk, and should prompt future randomized trials to test this hypothesis.

Clinical Topics: Noninvasive Imaging, Atherosclerotic Disease (CAD/PAD)

Keywords: Magnesium, Coronary Artery Disease, Myocardial Infarction, Plaque, Atherosclerotic, Tomography, Cardiology, Vascular Calcification, Cardiovascular Diseases, Calcinosis, Risk Factors

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