New Therapy Might Lower Heart Attack Risk

By Robert Ehrman, MD | Revised by Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD, LDN

Heart-with-Stethascope_webDid you know that having diabetes increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke? This is why being active and eating right is so important for you. Doctors and scientists continue to look for new ways to make your life with diabetes a little bit safer, easier, and enjoyable. Read on to hear about the latest research into an exciting new way to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.

What’s the new therapy?

This new therapy that might be good for your heart and blood vessels if you have diabetes is called Chelation (key-lay-shun) therapy. The therapy involves doctors injecting a medicine called “EDTA” into your vein. EDTA sticks to some metals and minerals that dissolve in your blood stream. Once the metals and minerals are stuck to the EDTA, they are removed from your body, usually through your urine.

This therapy is not really new, but it is being used in a new way. Chelation therapy is normally used to treat such problems as lead or mercury poisoning. However, some people have already begun to use it to lower the risk of heart disease, even though using it in this way has never really been tested. Chelation therapy to lower the risk of heart disease is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite this, more than 100,000 people had chelation treatment for one reason or another between 2002 and 2007. The significant number of people using the therapy for this purpose has motivated doctors and scientists to undertake a study of this treatment in a safe and controlled way.

The research

1,700 people aged 50 years or older took part in this study. All of these people had suffered a heart attack at some point before joining the study. Most of the people in the study took the normal medicines one would take after a heart attack, such as a statin, aspirin, or a beta blocker. The people were randomly chosen to get either the EDTA injections, or an injection of salt water. All study members were followed for 1 to 5 years to see what happened.

The EDTA had many benefits for people with diabetes, but not for people without diabetes.

People with diabetes who got the EDTA treatment were:

  • About half as likely to have another heart attack
  • About one-third as likely to die from a heart attack or stroke
  • About half as likely to die from any cause

What do these results mean for you?

Experts are not really sure what the results mean. It will probably be several years before enough is known about this therapy to make it acceptable for general use. In fact, the doctors who did the study are not even sure how or why it works.

The important thing to remember about the EDTA-based Chelation therapy for heart disease is that this study is just a starting point. For some experts, it raises more questions than answers. They warn that there is much more work to be done before chelation with EDTA can be called a safe and effective way to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes in people with diabetes.

Until that day comes, you must keep on taking care of your diabetes the old-fashioned way:

No matter what new therapy is discovered, living a healthy lifestyle will always be a sure way to keep your heart health and diabetes on the right track!


(45 Articles)

Dr. Robert Ehrman, MD is a Board Certified Emergency Physician. He completed his training in Emergency Medicine at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT and Cook County Hospital in Chicago, IL. He always reminds his patients that the more they take care for their health each day, the less likely they are to visit him again in the ER!

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