Chelation therapy is intravenous infusion with an artificial amino acid called ethylene-diamine-tetraacetic acid, or EDTA (for its acronym in English). The treatment was developed in the 1940s as a heavy metal chelation, for example, with lead or mercury, since EDTA can bind to heavy metals. Heavy metals that are attached to EDTA can be safely removed by the kidney. This therapy is also used for cases of radiation poisoning in which radioactive substances have been accidentally ingested.
As it was recognized that atheromatous plaques contain calcium in the decade of 1960, it has been assumed that EDTA, which can also bind calcium, can dissolve existing atherosclerotic plaques or at least prevent them and thus prevent the progression of existing atherosclerosis.
Treatment now consists of 5-30 sessions of the intravenous infusion (IV) of EDTA, which takes about 2-4 hours in the first month. 30 sessions is the most common diet. It is recommended that the majority of patients come back once a month for follow-up procedures. The therapy also tends to be accompanied by changes in lifestyle that quit smoking , better nutrition (less saturated fat, more fruits and vegetables, vitamin supplements), regular exercise and an attempt to lose weight.
What proof of its effectiveness or absence?
Many chelation therapists report to their patients to feel better and show better heart function after treatment. There are also many reports of patients claiming that they owe their life to this miraculous drug. How can these claims be scientifically justified, or are they due to lifestyle changes that usually accompany therapy?
In 1960, scientists did a small study with 30 patients. However, two patients died during the study and there was no interest seen for the other 28, so the study was terminated prematurely.
In 2002, there was a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In this study, 84 patients with coronary heart disease were followed for 27 weeks. It was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, that is, one group of patients received IV chelation therapy, and the other half of the patients received only IV fluid without EDTA (placebo ).
A double-blind study, if neither patients nor doctors know who received the drug and who received the placebo, to avoid the psychological effects of waiting for drugs to work. This type of study is the gold standard for scientists to know if a drug is effective or not.
Patients in the JAMA study were asked to sit on an exercise bike while doing an ECG (ECG) at the beginning and end of the 27 week study. The time taken since the beginning of the year until the time at which the patient’s ECG showed signs of ischemia is the lack of oxygen in the heart been measured. Patients were asked to complete a quality of life questionnaire at the beginning and end of the study. After 27 weeks, there is no difference between the placebo group and chelation therapy.
However, it is possible that there are benefits of chelation therapy, but the benefits are too small to be detected in this relatively small study. For this reason, there is currently a large study underway, funded by the National Institutes of Health that involves 2,372 patients over the age of 50 with coronary artery disease. This study is large enough to be able to conclusively demonstrate that chelation therapy has small or medium effects on this disease.