brand logo

Am Fam Physician. 2023;108(4):348

This clinical content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial relationships.

Clinical Question

Is magnesium sulfate an effective addition to usual care for adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) exacerbations?

Evidence-Based Answer

Adding intravenous magnesium to standard care for adults with COPD exacerbations may decrease hospital admissions and the length of hospitalization. Seven people with COPD exacerbations would need to be treated with intravenous magnesium to prevent one admission. Patients treated with intravenous magnesium who require hospitalization have a decreased length of stay (mean difference = 2.7 days). There is insufficient evidence about the frequency and severity of adverse events.1 (Strength of Recommendation: A, consistent, good-quality patient-oriented evidence.)

Practice Pointers

Acute exacerbations of COPD are common, with 7% to 33% of patients being hospitalized for severe exacerbations per year, depending on their baseline severity of illness.2 The authors of the Cochrane review sought to determine the effectiveness and safety of nebulized and intravenous magnesium sulfate in treating COPD exacerbations in terms of hospitalization rate and other factors.

Already a member/subscriber?  Log In


From $165
  • Immediate, unlimited access to all AFP content
  • More than 130 CME credits/year
  • AAFP app access
  • Print delivery available

Issue Access

  • Immediate, unlimited access to this issue's content
  • CME credits
  • AAFP app access
  • Print delivery available
Purchase Access:  Learn More

These are summaries of reviews from the Cochrane Library.

This series is coordinated by Corey D. Fogleman, MD, assistant medical editor.

A collection of Cochrane for Clinicians published in AFP is available at

Continue Reading

More in AFP

More in PubMed

Copyright © 2023 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.