Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorIf you had heart disease, would you be willing to try almost anything to make your heart healthy?

That’s the promise of a treatment that’s been around a long time, but has consistently received failing grades from cardiologists. It’s a treatment that a number of “doctors” and alternative health providers promise can clean out clogged heart arteries and help a patient avoid a bypass, stent, or handfuls of pills each day.

It’s called “chelation” and it’s the subject of a study that’s generating a lot buzz today at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting.

The premise of chelation is simple: you’ve got clogged pipes in your heart, so why not flush those plaques away with a solution of natural drain cleaners. But does it work or is it a bunch of malarkey?

The study comes from the alternative medicine branch of the National Institutes of Health. In this study, researchers followed more than 1700 people who had heart disease. Half of the people got chelation therapy, half got a placebo chelation therapy— and  after the treatment was completed– 27% of those who had chelation had another heart issue, while 30% of the placebo went on to further heart issues.

So, a 3% difference. (Sounds like today’s politics!)

Here’s how this chelation stuff works: 40 times a year, you go in and have three hour long IV infusion of ETDA (which is a chemical otherwise used to treat lead poisoning) along with a stew of vitamins and minerals. The concoction is supposed to open up all of the blockages in the heart. So, it takes a while, and it aint cheap.

Now, how legit is this treatment? This is the first study which ever showed it might be helpful. All other research says it’s garbage… and potentially dangerous.

In this study of 1700+, more than 600 dropped out. Maybe it was the 40 three-hour sessions–no one knows.

Even then, it took a year after completing therapy  to supposedly free of heart disease– so two years after you have your first treatment.

Then there is the 3% difference– not very conclusive. Remember this isn’t horseshoes, it’s your heart– we don’t like close– we like conclusive.

Bottom line, this is one study out of dozens and dozens that say chelation is worthless. And the study is filled with holes.

If you’ve got clogged pipes, call a plumber. Clogged heart, call a cardiologist. This is one form of alternative medicine that’s a bunch of hooey. Call in the shovels.


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