CNN reports that a new study presents evidence that heart chelation therapy, considered an alternative treatment for heart disease, may be significantly effective at preventing heart problems. However, the study is not without controversy. Chelation therapy involves a series of intravenous drug infusions administered to patients who have heart disease or who have suffered a heart attack. The report found that the therapy reduced the risk of heart attacks, deaths, strokes and other heart problems by 18%, however many scientists question the validity of these results and even more believe that the treatment is unsafe. In fact, the lead author of the study is unsure whether the results happened by mere chance or are in fact valid.
Some of the concerns associated with chelation therapy are significant. For instance, chelation, a treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of lead poisoning, is often used to remove heavy metals from the body. The medications used during chelation bind to calcium deposits in the patients clogged arteries, sweeping away the blockage. However, some patients who received chelation died after receiving it from dangerously low calcium levels which caused their hearts to stop beating. Other doctors worry that consumers will only focus on the positive aspects of this report and seek chelation therapy instead of a proven treatment like bypass surgery.
The report itself is being criticized heavily by the medical community, with many believing that the study was not conducted properly. For instance, 17% of those who participated in the study dropped out before results were reached, and therefore their results were not included. Many scientists believe that patients drop out of studies when they are having adverse side effects, but without their results, it cannot be ascertained.
Medical studies of this kind often lead doctors and their patients to become overly enthusiastic and to therefore make poor health decisions. Chelation comes with serious risks and its effectiveness is far from being proven with a legitimate study. Furthermore, chelation has not been approved by the FDA for treating heart conditions. Patients with heart conditions should inform themselves with information about chelation prior to choosing it as an alternative therapy and should not rely solely upon the opinion of their physician.
Our Chicago medical malpractice attorneys understand that patients rely on physicians to guide many of their health related decisions, and that sometimes physicians rely too heavily on unsubstantiated reports of new treatments available. If you believe your physician deviated from the standard of care and you suffered serious injuries as a result, please contact our office to learn about your legal rights.