Background: Numerous practitioners of both conventional and complementary and alternative medicine throughout North America and Europe claim that chelation therapy with EDTA is an effective means to both control and treat cardiovascular disease. These claims are controversial, and several randomized controlled trials have been completed dealing with this topic. To address this issue we conducted a systematic review to evaluate the best available evidence for the use of EDTA chelation therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular disease.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of 7 databases from inception to May 2005. Hand searches were conducted in review articles and in any of the trials found. Experts in the field were contacted and registries of clinical trials were searched for unpublished data. To be included in the final systematic review, the studies had to be randomized controlled clinical trials.
Results: A total of seven articles were found assessing EDTA chelation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Two of these articles were subgroup analyses of one RCT that looked at different clinical outcomes. Of the remaining five studies, two smaller studies found a beneficial effect whereas the other three exhibited no benefit for cardiovascular disease from the use of EDTA chelation therapy. Adverse effects were rare but those of note included a few cases of hypocalcemia and a single case of increased creatinine in a patient on the EDTA intervention.
Conclusion: The best available evidence does not support the therapeutic use of EDTA chelation therapy in the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Although not considered to be a highly invasive or harmful therapy, it is possible that the use of EDTA chelation therapy in lieu of proven therapy may result in causing indirect harm to the patient.