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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 186-193

Serum magnesium in adult patients with idiopathic and symptomatic epilepsy in Maiduguri, Northeast Nigeria

1 Federal Medical Center Azare, Bauchi State, Nigeria
2 Neurology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri, Borno State; Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK
3 Neurosurgery Department, Kings College Hospital, London, UK
4 Neurology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria
5 Department of Medicine, National Hospital Abuja, Abuja, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. M M Watila
Neurology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, PMB 1414, Maiduguri, Borno State

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_252_18

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Background: Alteration in the homeostasis of trace elements such as magnesium may play a role in the development of epileptic seizures. This study aims to investigate the levels of serum magnesium in people with idiopathic generalized epileptic (IGE) seizures and symptomatic seizures in Northeast Nigeria. Materials and Methods: Serum magnesium level was measured using atomic absorption spectrometry among 40 adults with IGE, 20 adults with symptomatic epileptic seizures, and 30 healthy controls. Serum calcium, potassium, phosphate, and albumin were also measured. Results: The mean serum magnesium level was significantly lower among people with epilepsy compared with the controls [0.79 ± 0.18 mmol/L vs 0.90 mmol/L ± 0.17, P = 0.007, 95% confidence interval (CI): (−0.189 to −0.031)]. People with IGE had significantly lower levels of magnesium compared with those with symptomatic seizures [0.74 ± 0.17 mmol/L vs 0.9 ± 0.16 mmol/L, P < 0.001 95% CI: (−0.251 to −0.069)]. The mean magnesium level for all groups was in the reference range, but the lowest levels were observed in those with IGE. There is no significant correlation between the level of serum magnesium and the severity of seizure attacks. There was significantly lower level of calcium in people with IGE compared with those with symptomatic seizures [2.3 ± 0.13 mmol/L vs 2.4 ± 0.16 mmol/L, P = 0.012, 95% CI: (−0.177 to 0.023)] or controls [2.3 ± 0.13 mmol/L vs 2.4 ± 0.12 mmol/L, P < 0.01, 95% CI: (−0.156 to −0.044)]. No significant differences were observed in the levels of potassium, phosphate, and albumin. Conclusion: This study suggests that low serum magnesium and calcium may play a role in IGE, and supplementation may be useful in reducing seizures in Black patients with epilepsy.

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