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NIH Report: Chelation Therapy Reduces Cardiovascular Events in Older Patients With Diabetes

Treatment is not currently approved by FDA (November 19)

Chelation therapy reduced cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, and death in patients with diabetes but not in those who did not have diabetes, according to an analysis of data from the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT), funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, researchers say more studies are needed before it’s known whether this promising finding leads to a treatment option.

Chelation is a chemical process in which a substance is delivered intravenously to bind atoms of metals or minerals and hold them tightly so that they can be removed from the body. Chelation is conventionally used as a treatment for heavy-metal poisoning, although some clinicians use it as an unapproved treatment for conditions such as heart disease.

The diabetes subgroup analysis of TACT was published Nov. 18 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes and was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2013.

TACT’s initial report was published in the Mar. 27 issue of JAMA. This previous report showed that infusions of a form of chelation therapy using disodium ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA) produced a modest but statistically significant reduction in cardiovascular events in all EDTA-treated patients. However, further examination of the data showed that patients with diabetes were significantly affected by chelation therapy while patients without diabetes were not.

The patients with diabetes, who made up approximately one-third of 1,708 participants, demonstrated a 41% overall reduction in the risk of any cardiovascular event; a 40% reduction in the risk of death from heart disease-associated nonfatal stroke or nonfatal heart attack; a 52% reduction in recurrent heart attacks; and a 43% reduction in death from any cause. In contrast, there was no significant benefit of EDTA treatment in the subgroup of 1,045 patients who did not have diabetes.

TACT was not designed to determine how or why chelation might benefit patients with diabetes.

Source: NIH; November 19, 2013.

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