Q Dear Dr V,

My 80-year-old father was sent home from the hospital after a heart attack and cardiac catheterization and is on several drugs: Imdur®, Lopressor®, Coumadin®, and Norvasc®. His coronary arteries are 99% blocked and his condition is inoperable due to his history of three strokes. This is all the cardiologist can offer him.

I see a DO (osteopathic doctor) for herbal therapy and acupuncture. This doctor also does IV chelation and suggested it for my father. I am getting opposition from my family because it is not a standard, well-known treatment and is not covered by insurance. I hate to stand by and watch my father get worse. Would the oral chelation help, or is this mainly preventive, which is what I understand from your Web site? I am an R.N. who is open-minded to alternatives in medicine. I see every day what Western medicine does and does not do.

Thank you for any suggestion you may offer.

    NH, R.N.
A Dear NH,

My condolences to your father. His situation is similar to that of huge numbers of other Americans who are unaware of adjunctive or alternative therapies for the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular disease. The resistance to many alternative therapies by many physicians, by large medical institutions, and by pharmaceutical companies is essentially politically and economically motivated. Sadly, I guess this is now the American way.

This motivation is unfortunate, because if it were not so, many more people would be informed about effective, safe, and less costly alternative therapies, not only for cardiovascular disorders but also for a vast array of other medical problems. The average person relies on his or her doctor to provide the best and latest information and options for any given medical problem. But if your doctor is not knowledgeable about a particular alternative therapy, then you, the average person, will not know about it unless you research the matter yourself or find a doctor who does know.

Most physicians don't know much about the alternatives because they haven't been taught or haven't had any compelling reason (thus far) to learn about them on their own. However, I believe the need to learn about viable alternatives is coming soon for the majority of health care givers in this country, not only for ethical reasons but for economic reasons too.

EDTA chelation therapy has been in use for decades. There are literally thousands of studies available supporting its ability to restore cardiovascular function. EDTA has been shown through a process called chelation (binding and removing various toxic metals and minerals) to improve blood flow safely and to relieve symptoms associated with atherosclerotic disease. Although the biochemical mechanisms involved in chelation are complex, it can be understood simply as the removal of undesirable calcium and other minerals that promote plaque formation, blood clotting, and atherosclerosis, which can end up blocking arteries. Considering your father's history of strokes, it is worth mentioning that EDTA has blood-thinning properties that are without the risks of such drugs as Coumadin.

One particular study (keep in mind, of thousands of studies available) found that when 65 patients who had been on the waiting list for coronary artery bypass graft (bypass surgery) for an average of six months were treated with EDTA chelation therapy, the symptoms in 89% of them improved so much that they canceled their surgery. In the same study, of 27 patients recommended for limb amputation due to poor peripheral circulation, EDTA chelation therapy resulted in the saving of 24 limbs.

One of my favorite quotes from Garry Gordon, MD, DO -- the father of modern EDTA chelation therapy -- is, "I have taken on patients who were inoperable, who had already had every known form of bypass surgery, until there weren't any more veins in their legs to strip out to put in their hearts. They were sent home to die, and I could get those people back to full functioning. I've had doctor friends who wouldn’t take the IV [EDTA] at first, but who are now on oral EDTA and are able to pass a treadmill stress test that they couldn't pass for five years. I've seen lots of good things happen with oral EDTA-based supplement programs."

Even though oral EDTA and IV EDTA do many of the same things, based on the information you have given me about the severity of your father's condition, IV EDTA chelation therapy would be more appropriate. I strongly recommend that you and your father consult with a physician experienced in administering IV EDTA. Based on all the scientific evidence, I believe it is very likely that your father could be dramatically helped by this therapy.*

Oral EDTA would be advantageous as an adjunctive therapy. It can be used not only as a preventive, but also in cases where more severe symptoms have developed. It should be used on a regular basis between IV EDTA sessions in order to provide ongoing maintenance benefits. Regular use of oral EDTA may also lessen the number of IV sessions required.

If for some reason your father opts against IV EDTA altogether, oral EDTA could still be of some advantage. About one month's use of oral EDTA is equivalent in benefits to one IV EDTA chelation session, although they are not entirely equivalent. The cost for several sessions of IV therapy is minimal in comparison to the cost of other conventional therapies, such as cardiac catheterization, bypass surgery, or pharmaceuticals. I would consider the cost negligible when the value of quality of life is considered. Oral EDTA's cost is also negligible in comparison, approximately $30 to $50 per month in your father's case if used every day.

There is additional scientific evidence that garlic can reduce arterial plaque. As you already know, Life Enhancement Products carries a formulation designed by Dr. Garry Gordon with both oral EDTA and garlic, called Oral EDTA Chelator OriginalTM.

The following organizations, both founded by Dr. Gordon, are excellent resources for comprehensive information on EDTA chelation therapy and for locating a physician experienced in this field:

American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) 
23121 Verdugo Drive, Ste 204 
Laguna Hills, CA 92653 
(949) 583-7666

International College of Advanced Longevity Medicine (ICALM) 
P.O. Box 2609 
Payson, AZ 85547 
(520) 472-9086 
(520) 474-1297 fax

Good luck. Let me know how things turn out for you and your father.

    Dr V
* For individuals with medical problems neither IV or oral EDTA should be a substitute for ongoing monitoring by a physician.