Magnesium Sulfate for the Treatment of Eclampsia
A Brief Review
Background and Purpose— Magnesium sulfate is used extensively for prevention of eclamptic seizures. Empirical and clinical evidence supports the effectiveness of magnesium sulfate; however, questions remain as to its safety and mechanism. This review summarizes current evidence supporting the possible mechanisms of action and several controversies for magnesium sulfate treatment.
Summary of Review— Several mechanisms are presented, including the effects of magnesium sulfate on peripheral and cerebral vasodilation, blood-brain barrier protection, and as an anticonvulsant.
Conclusions— Though the specific mechanisms of action remain unclear, the effect of magnesium sulfate in the prevention of eclampsia is likely multi-factorial. Magnesium sulfate may act as a vasodilator, with actions in the peripheral vasculature or the cerebrovasculature, to decrease peripheral vascular resistance or relieve vasoconstriction. Additionally, magnesium sulfate may also protect the blood-brain barrier and limit cerebral edema formation, or it may act through a central anticonvulsant action.
- Received June 3, 2008.
- Revision received August 15, 2008.
- Accepted September 8, 2008.