National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

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Chelation for Coronary Heart Disease

Chelation is a chemical process in which a substance is used to bind molecules, such as metals or minerals, and hold them tightly so that they can be removed from the body. Chelation has been used to rid the body of excess or toxic metals. For example, a person who has lead poisoning may receive chelation therapy in order to bind and remove excess lead from the body before it can cause damage.

One type of chelation, disodium EDTA chelation therapy, is a synthetic, or man-made, amino acid that is delivered intravenously (through the veins). Some physicians and complementary and alternative medicine practitioners have recommended disodium EDTA chelation as a way to treat coronary heart disease, although it is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this purpose.

The National Institutes of Health, including the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and NCCAM, sponsored the Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT)—the first large-scale, multicenter study designed to determine the safety and efficacy of disodium EDTA chelation therapy for individuals with coronary heart disease. Results from TACT were published in the March 27, 2013, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The links below lead to study results, additional background information about the study, and other related resources.