About Chelation Therapy and a National Study
Chelation (pronounced "key-lay-shun") is a non-surgical treatment sometimes used to remove heavy metals which might be effective in treating cases of poor circulation and hardening of the arteries. The therapy consists of a series of slow intravenous infusions of a synthetic amino acid (ethylene diamine tetracetic acid--EDTA), diet, exercise, and stress management.
WHAT IS EDTA?
EDTA is a preservative that is found in many foods. The Food and Drug Administration includes EDTA on its list of Generally Recognized As Safe Drug (GRAS list).
Since the 1940's, EDTA has been used in cases of heavy metal poisoning (such as lead intoxication in children who have eaten lead-based paint) to remove the harmful metals from the body. It was incidentally noted that some patients who also had hardened arteries and were being treated for metal toxicity seemed to respond with improvement in circulatory function, as well as lowered blood pressure. This "side-effect" of EDTA has led to its current use as a therapy for circulatory problems.
WHAT DOES EDTA ACTUALLY DO?
When an EDTA solution is injected into the bloodstream, it surrounds calcium ions in the blood and quickly takes them with it through the kidneys into the urine. The body then mobilizes calcium, some of which comes from hardened arteries, joint linings and other stiffened tissues. This process might even stimulate new bone growth for those who have weak bones (osteoporosis). Reports in the literature show that EDTA might reduce clotting, improve cholesterol and lower blood pressure. It must be emphasized that these mechanisms are the way we think that the therapy works. There have not been any large double-blind studies that have proven these mechanisms.
The theory is that as the hardened arteries get softer and more flexible, more blood passes through. Diagnostic tests in our office taken before and after chelation (such as vascular analysis with ultrasound) have shown that areas of impaired circulation are often improved
WHO NEEDS CHELATION THERAPY?
Nearly all men and women over the age of 45 suffer to some degree from the effects of hardening arteries. Actually a 30% narrowing of the arteries is considered "normal" at that age. However, a plaque can be "vulnerable" to leakage, which causes a sudden clot that totally blocks the artery. Most people do not realize that they have a problem until they develop chest pains, cramps in their legs when they walk or a heart attack.
People associate things like loss of sharp vision and hearing, dizziness and loss of memory with "old age." The reason some of us seem to get older and more senile than others is often due to the amount of narrowing of the arteries that is present. Chelation might be a help that many need to overcome the debilitating effects that arteriosclerosis can have all over the body. Currently the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) has been completed and the results are being analyzed. The study is a large study to determine how well chelation prevents heart attacks.