A new study that looked at the controversial alternative therapy known as chelation, found that it has benefits for heart patients.
Credit: Joel Nito

A new study looking at the controversial alternative therapy known as "chelation" showed a small benefit in heart patients.

Chelation therapy has long been used to treat heavy-metal poisoning in patients but some doctors and alternative medicine specialists have recommended it for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

The therapy involves the administration of chelating agents that bind to metals to remove them.

Some say that they also bind to calcium in arterial plaque helping to remove it, said MayoClinic.com.

The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was the first of its kind.

Time reported that the research looked at over 1700 heart attack survivors around the US and Canada with half receiving chelation and the other half a placebo.

The patients received 40 chelation treatments over a year.

The study authors found that after a year, 27 percent of those who received chelation had a heart event, slightly less than the 30 percent who did not receive the therapy.

Though the study was statistically significant, doctors urged caution.

“Intriguing as these results are, they are unexpected and should not be interpreted as an indication to adopt chelation therapy into clinical practice,” said Elliott Antman, a cardiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, according to the New York Times.

Some doctors believe the study was unnecessary and a waste of taxpayer money.

Some even think it is a dangerous endorsement of the alternative therapy.

"This study has the potential to be extremely dangerous," said Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, according to USA Today

Chelation "should not be administered to any patients for the indication of heart disease. ... There are a lot of people, including me, who believe this was a poor use of taxpayer dollars."

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