A treatment used by alternative medical providers to treat heart disease is now gaining attention after a study shows that it can significantly reduce cardiac events for heart attack patients with diabetes.
According to data from the 10-year National Institutes of Health-sponsored Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), chelation therapy – which removes metals from the body – used in conjunction with high-dose oral vitamins and supplements can reduce the risk of heart complications such as death, more heart attacks, strokes and other problems by 26% in heart attack survivors, and by an astonishing 49% in diabetic heart attack survivors. Results will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Heart Journal.
“There is simply nothing like this in diabetes care,” said Gervasio A. Lamas, M.D., the study’s principal investigator and chairman of medicine and chief of the Columbia University Division of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center. “I started as a disbeliever in 2002, like many cardiologists. But after living with the chelation study for a decade, and now developing these amazing results, I believe we can offer better health to heart attack survivors, particularly if they have diabetes,” Lamas said.
The chelation protocol involves multiple injections of a synthetic amino acid, ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid – better known as EDTA – into the blood stream. EDTA binds to certain metals and minerals in the blood, such as lead and cadmium, enabling them to be removed from the body through urination. These metals are often associated with risk of heart attack, stroke, high-blood pressure and death.
Chelation therapy was first used for heart disease in the late 1950s and is conventionally used as a treatment for toxic metal poisoning, such as lead poisoning. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for the treatment of heart disease. However, there has been a surge in use of the therapy to treat heart disease and other health conditions in the United States by alternative medicine practitioners.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled study occurred between September 2003 and October 2010, and included 1,708 patients 50 years and older, all of whom suffered a previous heart attack. More than one-third of the group – 633 patients – had diabetes.
The group was randomly divided into four groups for treatment: those receiving EDTA chelation with high-dose oral multivitamins, EDTAchelation with oral placebo (in place of vitamins), placebo infusions with high-dose multivitamins, and placebo infusions with oral placebo.
When compared with patients who were assigned to placebo infusions and placebo oral vitamins, heart attack survivors receiving chelation plus oral supplements demonstrated a 26% reduction in heart complications. This was increased to a reduction of complications by nearly half in patients who had diabetes.
“When I saw the results, it was a shock,” Dr. Lamas said. “But this is why we do research.”
With the minimal side effects of chelation and potential life-saving benefits for cardiac patients with diabetes, Dr. Lamas said he believes the therapy should be considered as a viable treatment option and explored further.
For more information about Mount Sinai Medical Center, visit www.msmc.com. Follow Dr. Lamas on Twitter @GLamasmd. Follow Mount Sinai on Twitter @MountSinaiMiami.