Modest Cardiac Benefit From Chelation Therapy Not Enough to OK Use: Experts

New study shows slight effect, but arduous 'leaching' treatment has side effects, doctors say

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But Green said the debate over chelation's effectiveness may continue.

"The use of chelation therapy for coronary artery disease has had its advocates for decades, but predominantly outside of regular medical circles," Green noted. "This is because there has not been what was considered a good hypothesis to explain why it should work for coronary atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries]."

Beyond that are safety concerns linked to the therapy's removal of calcium from the bloodstream. In the study, the researchers noted that the treatment "may cause hypocalcemia [abnormally low calcium in the blood] and death."

Speaking at the time of the ACC meeting presentation in San Francisco, cardiologist Dr. Tara Narula, associate director of the cardiac care unit at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, was similarly dubious of chelation's usefulness.

"Although it is noteworthy that chelation may be helpful, it is an expensive treatment and does carry significant side effects," she said.

More information

There's more on the care of heart attack patients at the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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