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Some alternative medicine physicians recommend use of intravenous infusions of a chemical called ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) in order to clear out the arteries of the heart, a method called chelation therapy.
Chelation therapy is controversial. It is widely promoted for the treatment of angina, but there is no meaningful evidence that it is effective, and some evidence that it is not. Proponents claim that EDTA chelation is an effective alternative to heart surgery, and that it also offers many other health benefits. Many other experts argue that chelation therapy is based on an outdated understanding of atherosclerosis.
Effect of Chelation Therapy on Heart Attack
EDTA is a synthetic substance that is used to remove heavy metals, such as lead, from the body, but it also has an effect on calcium, which is why it came into use in treating hardening of the arteries. (The damaged, brittle vessels found in people with heart disease are lined with calcium deposits.) Chelation therapy may help treat people at risk of or recovering from heart attacks by helping to improve the health and function of these hardened arteries.
Read more details about Chelation Therapy.
Research Evidence on Chelation Therapy
Research suggests that chelation therapy is probably ineffective.14,15 For more information, see the research section of the article on chelation therapy for coronary artery disease and angina.
Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment
Some physicians and alternative practitioners believe in chelation therapy and may offer it.
Not only does it appear to be ineffective, EDTA chelation therapy may present some safety risks. This treatment is generally given in a series of 10 to 30 sessions. If the practitioner fails to take proper precautions, severe adverse consequences, such as kidney damage, may result. Properly performed chelation therapy is unlikely to cause harm.
- Ernst E. Chelation therapy for coronary heart disease: An overview of all clinical investigations. Am Heart J. 2000;140:4-5.
- Knudtson ML, Wyse DG, Galbraith PD, et al. Chelation therapy for ischemic heart disease: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2002;287:481-486.
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