A study is called double –blind, if neither the patients nor the doctors know who received the medication and who received placebo, to avoid psychological effects of expecting the drug to work. This kind of study is the scientific gold-standard to figure out whether a drug works or not.
The patients in the JAMA-study were asked to sit on an exercise bike while having an electrocardiogram (ECG) done at the start and end of the 27-week study. The time it took from the start of the exercising to the time point when the patient’s ECG showed signs of ischemia, which is oxygen deficiency in the heart, was measured. The patients were also asked to fill out a quality of life questionnaire at the start and end of the study. After 27 weeks, no difference was found between the placebo and chelation-therapy group.
It is, however, possible that there are benefits of chelation therapy, but the benefits are too small to be detected in this relatively small study. For that reason there is currently a large study underway, funded by the National Institutes of Health that involves 2372 patients over 50 years with coronary artery disease. This study is large enough to be able to conclusively show whether chelation therapy has any small or moderate effects on this disease.
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