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Epidemiologic studies in North America and Europe have shown that people consuming Western-type diets are low in magnesium (Mg) content (i.e., < 30 - 65% of the RDA for Mg); most such diets in the USA show that 60 - 80% of Americans are consuming only 185 - 235 mg/day of Mg. Low Mg content in areas of soft-water, and Mg-poor soil, is associated with high incidences of ischemic heart disease (IHD), coronary artery disease, hypertension, and sudden cardiac death (SCD). It is clear that the leading underlying cause of death worldwide is atherosclerosis. Importantly, both animal and human studies have shown an inverse relationship between dietary intake of Mg and atherosclerosis. The myocardial level of Mg has consistently been observed to be lower in subjects dying from IHD and SCD in soft-water areas than those in hard-water areas. Over the past 20 years, our laboratories, using several types of primary cultured vascular smooth muscle (VSM) cells, and myocardial cells, demonstrated that declining levels of extracellular Mg ([Mg2+]0) activated several enzymatic pathways to produce increases in cellular sphingolipids, particularly ceramides which are known to exert numerous types of cardiovascular manifestations including inflammatory effects; the latter play important roles in atherogenesis and cardiovascular diseases. Approximately 20 years ago, we reported that low [Mg2+]0 caused formation of platelet-activating factor (PAF) as well as other types of PAF-like molecules and suggested that these molecules might be causative agents in low Mg2+- induced IHD and SCD. Herein, we review results and data from our labs which strongly support roles for ceramides, PAF and PAF-like lipids in low [Mg2+]0-induced IHD and SCD.

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Originally published in the Journal of Clinical & Experimental Cardiology, 7 [Article 427]. Licensed under CC BY. doi:10.4172/2155-9880.1000427