(NaturalNews) A combination of high-dose multivitamins and chelation therapy may protect heart attack survivors from future cardiovascular events and death, according to a multicenter study published in the American Heart Journal.
Intravenous chelation, in which the chemical ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is injected into the bloodstream in order to bind to minerals and help flush them from the body, is an FDA-approved treatment for heavy metal poisoning that was first used during World War I. Since 1956, practitioners of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have used chelation for other purposes, including to treat atherosclerotic disease (hardened arteries), in part based on the idea that the therapy might help flush out the mineral deposits that lead to arterial hardening.
Because there has been limited research to support this practice and the FDA has not approved it, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute sponsored the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT).
"Heavy metals are associated very well in epidemiologic data with cardiovascular events; in particular, lead, cadmium, arsenic, sometimes mercury, and others that have less evidence, like tungsten and antimony," said lead researcher Dr. Gervasio A. Lamas of the Columbia University Division of Cardiology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.
"They're all in our environment. Any of us who are of an age to have been exposed to leaded gasoline have lead in our bones. If we get an infusion of EDTA, we'll have lead in our urine. It's just the way it is. And as you get older and become osteoporotic, that lead starts getting released."
Previous findings from the TACT study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Dramatic risk reduction
In a randomized, double-blind trial, the researchers randomly assigned 1,708 stable heart attack survivors at 134 clinics across the United States to one of four experimental conditions: high-dose oral multivitamins plus chelation, chelation plus a vitamin-mimicking placebo, vitamins plus a chelation-mimicking placebo or double placebo.
Participants had to get a 500 cc intravenous infusion once per week for 30 weeks, followed by another 10 infusions spaced two to eight weeks apart. All participants also had to take six large capsules daily.
The researchers evaluated effectiveness of the therapies by looking at two separate endpoints. The primary endpoint was the total rate of heart attack, stroke, coronary revascularization, hospitalization for angina and all-cause mortality. The secondary endpoint was the total rate of stroke, cardiovascular death or recurrent heart attack.
The researchers found that chelation alone led to a statistically significant 18 percent reduction in primary endpoint, relative to placebo. Chelation plus multivitamins led to a 26 percent reduction in risk over placebo. Chelation plus multivitamin also reduced the secondary endpoint by 34 percent, compared with placebo.
Diabetic participants benefited even more dramatically. Among diabetics, chelation resulted in a 41 percent reduction in primary endpoint, while chelation plus vitamins resulted in a 51 percent reduction. The rate of all-cause mortality in diabetic patients dropped 43 percent with chelation alone, and the secondary endpoint was also reduced.
Put in real-world terms, the researchers noted that only 12 heart attack survivors would need to be treated with chelation plus multivitamins to prevent one primary event over the next five years. Only 5.5 diabetic patients would need to be treated to get the same effect.
Lamas has scheduled a meeting with the FDA to present the study findings.
Chelation has also been used by CAM practitioners as a treatment for other heavy metal-linked health conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, autism, cancer and macular degeneration.