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Controversial Treatment for Heart Disease; NY Times says slight benefit found

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Chelation therapy is an alternative form of treatment used for individuals who have a heart disease. “Chelation therapy involves the infusion of agents that remove metals from the bloodstream.” Specifically, patients who receive chelation therapy, receive “a synthetic amino acid called disodium ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid, or EDTA, as well as other substances.”

Researchers and enthusiasts alike believe that chelation therapy removes calcium from the body. Because calcium purportedly contributes to arterial plaques, removing this substance will aid individuals in combating heart disease. 

Experts say that each treatment will cost about $5,000. Every year, over 100,000 individuals who have a heart disease undergo chelation therapy nationwide. Skeptics do not believe that researchers and grant providers should invest time and money into conducting a study. 

Researchers nonetheless began a study in 2003 and spent three years to recruit about 2,400 patients for the study. Government agencies temporarily suspended the study but allowed researchers to resume the study a year later.

Ultimately, 1,708 patients who all previously had a heart attack participated in the study at 134 centers in both the United States and Canada. Once a week for thirty weeks, half of these patients underwent chelation therapy, whereas the other half received a placebo.

Researchers followed up with patients for 55 months. Researchers discovered that of the patients who received chelation therapy, 26% “died, suffered a heart attack or stroke, had a procedure to reopen a coronary artery or had been hospitalized for angina.” On the other hand, 30% received a placebo.

Some doctors are cautious about the difference and in fact, question the group of patients who participated in the study. For instance, diabetes may account for the difference in these findings. Dr. Mark A. Creager, a cardiologist at Bringham and Women’s Hospital said that a high dosage of Vitamin C and the presence of a blood thinner in chelation infusion might contribute to the benefit of the treatment.

Category: Misdiagnosis and Failure to Diagnose

Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer

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