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March 1986

Hypomagnesemia in Digitalized Patients

Author Affiliations

Glasgow, Scotland

Arch Intern Med. 1986;146(3):607. doi:10.1001/archinte.1986.00360150260039

To the Editor.  —We were interested to read the article by Drs Whang, Oei, and Watanabe1 and the accompanying editorial in the April edition of the Archives2 that prompted us to examine comparable patients in our hospital.In 97 consecutive, unselected patients on whom digoxin estimation was requested, we also measured sodium, potassium, and magnesium (sodium and potassium by flame photometry and magnesium by atomic absorption spectrometry).In contrast to Whang and colleagues, who found electrolyte disturbances in 56% of their patients, we found only 19% who had abnormal sodium and/or potassium and/or magnesium levels using their criteria (ie, sodium, ≤130; potassium, ≤3.5; and magnesium, <0.63 or ≥1.13 mmole/L).Levels of sodium, potassium, and magnesium obtained from our digitalized patients were normally distributed about their means. Hyponatremia occurred in 8% (as opposed to 21%), hypokalemia in 11% (9%), and hypomagnesemia in 4% (19%) of our patients. We found