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Chelation Therapy

By

Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Sep 2018| Content last modified Sep 2018
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Chelation therapy with EDTA (ethylene diamine tetraacetic acid) has also been suggested as a way to remove calcium and thus treat atherosclerosis. However, despite > 50 yr of study, researchers have not identified any mechanism to explain how chelation therapy could treat atherosclerosis or prevent heart attacks or strokes.

In 2012, a large randomized, placebo-controlled trial of chelation (the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy [TACT]) found a significant benefit for chelation over placebo for aggregated outcomes (26.5% vs 30% for placebo), but not for individual outcomes (eg, death, cardiovascular events, stroke, hospitalizations) (1 References In chelation therapy, a biologically based practice, a drug is used to bind with and remove hypothesized excess or toxic amounts of a metal or mineral (eg, lead, copper, iron, calcium) from... read more ). However, this study had methodological flaws and did not end the controversy over chelation therapy. A subsequent systematic review of 38 studies showed possible but unclear benefits of chelation in regard to secondary prevention of recurrent cardiac events (2 References In chelation therapy, a biologically based practice, a drug is used to bind with and remove hypothesized excess or toxic amounts of a metal or mineral (eg, lead, copper, iron, calcium) from... read more ).

Risks of chelation therapy include

  • Hypocalcemia (which is potentially serious)

  • Delay of more effective treatment

  • Kidney damage

  • Death

References

  • 1. Lamas GA, Goertz C, Boineau R, et al: Effect of disodium EDTA chelation regimen on cardiovascular events in patients with previous myocardial infarction: the TACT randomized trial. JAMA. 309(12):1241–50, 2013. doi: 10.1001/jama.2013.2107.

  • 2. Ibad A, Khalid R, Thompson PD, et al: Chelation therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. J Clin Lipidol 10(1):58-62, 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.jacl.2015.09.005.

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