By Michael A. Smith, MDChelation therapy with EDTA to remove heavy metals from the blood in order to treat coronary
disease has been around — and has provoked criticism — since the 1950s.
Despite a lack of conclusive clinical evidence and the skepticism of the medical community, passionate supporters have kept the therapy alive in alternative medicine circles.
But TACT, or the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy, could change the medical community’s skepticism into outright promotion and clinical application of chelation therapy.
Below, we'll explain what this could mean by exploring the research and its possible implications.
What is Chelation Anyway?Chelation therapy is used to remove metals from the bloodstream. The more common calcium EDTA is approved to treat lead poisoning.1,2 Other chelation drugs are used to manage iron overload following repeated blood transfusions.
In the study we're talking about today, they used the less common disodium EDTA and the infusion regimen contained other components, including vitamin C.
Regardless, there’s been decades-long debate about whether chelation therapy could be effective as a treatment for patients with atherosclerosis, or fatty deposits in arteries that can cause heart attacks.
Until now, there have been no large, long-term clinical trials to determine if these intravenous infusions might work for patients with coronary artery disease.
That's why this is so particularly interesting.
Chelation Patients had Fewer Cardiovascular EventsIn the multicenter, double-blind clinical trial3, 1,708 heart attack patients were randomized to receive 40 infusions of a 500 mL EDTA chelation solution or a placebo solution.
The chelation solution contained 3 g of EDTA, together with vitamin C and B vitamins, electrolytes, heparin as an anti-clotting medication, and a local anesthetic. In a second randomization, patients received either a vitamin and a mineral solution, orally, or an oral placebo.
The patient population was characterized as:
- 82% males
- 94% Caucasian
- 50% obese and 32% diabetics
- 68% were hypertensive
- 83% had past cardiovascular procedures
- 100% had one past heart attack
The results showed that patients receiving chelation therapy had fewer serious cardiovascular events than those receiving placebo — 26% versus 30%. This difference is small and statistically significant. But it’s definitely a big enough difference to grab the attention of conventional cardiologists.
Amazingly, diabetics seemed to benefit the most from chelation therapy. However, the investigators cautioned against subgroup analysis at this time until further clinical trials mimic their findings.
Dr. Tony Lamas, the lead investigator, said, “[…] the marked differences between the observed treatment effect in diabetics versus non-diabetics needs to be understood and we need to be sure that the findings can be replicated.”
So What Does it Mean?Dr. Lamas had this to say about the results: “A definitive answer on chelation therapy will take much additional research. The most exciting part of this study is that there may be an unexpected signal of benefit. We need to understand whether the signal is true, or whether it occurred by chance.”
The bottom line is this: More research is needed … and that’s always true in clinical medicine. But let’s not let conventional doctors drag their feet on this one.
If you’ve had a heart attack, ask your doctor today about chelation therapy. It may not be a bad idea to consider.
- Toxicol Ind Health. 2009 Mar;25(2):137-40.
- Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 July; 7(7): 2745–2788.
- American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2012, http://newsroom.heart.org/news/alternative-therapy-produces-intriguing-240492. Accessed April 3, 2013.