Cancer And Heart Health: How To Reduce Risk Of Developing Heart Problems After Cancer Therapy

Cancer And Heart Health: How To Reduce Risk Of Developing Heart Problems After Cancer Therapy
• Before beginning cancer therapy, it is critical to reducing excessive cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Some cancer therapies can cause damage to the heart and raise your risk of developing heart disease. Read on to understand the cardiac-cancer link.

Written by Longjam Dineshwori |Updated : March 9, 2023 4:18 PM IST

If you've recently been diagnosed with cancer or are about to begin treatment, heart health may be the last thing on your mind. However, cardio-oncologists (cardiologists who specialise in cancer care) frequently advise cautious monitoring of your heart before, during, and after cancer treatment at all periods when your heart may be in danger. In addition, heart-healthy guidelines are provided to avoid heart issues and lower the likelihood of developing heart problems following cancer therapy.

Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, explains, "Certain cancer therapies can harm the heart and circulatory systems. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as well as newer kinds of cancer treatment such as targeted treatments and immunotherapies, can induce or worsen these adverse effects, which include high blood pressure, irregular cardiac rhythms, and heart failure."

"However, certain cardiac adverse effects lie unnoticed for years, if not decades, after a patient's medication has finished. Cancer patients are living longer lives than ever before, and many of these survivors are living long enough to acquire late cardiovascular consequences," he adds.

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Talking to TheHealthSite, Dr Bhamre elaborates on the connection between cancer and heart health as well as highlights certain things that cancer patients should know to lower their likelihood of developing heart problems. Continue reading: -

Understand The Cardiac-Cancer Link

Some cancer therapies can cause damage to the heart muscle and blood vessels, raising the chance of developing heart disease in the days, weeks, months, or years after cancer therapy. This is because many cancer treatments, such as some chemotherapies, chest radiation, immunotherapy, and targeted medicines, can be hazardous to the heart.

Not only can people develop cancer treatment-related cardiac dysfunction (CTRCD), which is the decreased ability of the left ventricle to effectively pump blood, which can lead to heart failure, but they can also develop hypertension, arrhythmia, inflammation of the pericardium (the sac-like surrounding the heart), or progressive coronary artery disease.

Doctors advise cancer patients to seek cardio-oncology therapy as soon as possible. They underline the significance of having a cardiovascular risk assessment performed by a doctor who specialises in delivering this level of care. It can establish whether more tests, such as cardiac imaging investigations or drugs, are required. There are significant complexities in caring for cancer patients that go above and beyond a normal cardiology approach.

How to reduce heart disease risk in cancer patients

Cardio-oncologists encourage cancer patients and their caretakers to know the following heart-healthy information.

  • Before beginning therapy, it is critical to reducing excessive cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • A cardio-oncologist can help persons who have pre-existing heart illnesses (such as arrhythmia, valve disease, or coronary artery disease).
  • Even if you only have risk factors such as hypertension or high cholesterol, it is time to take action. High blood pressure that is not well managed is a substantial risk factor for heart damage from some types of chemotherapy.
  • Cardio-oncologists keep an eye on the heart throughout cancer treatment. They employ imaging to detect tiny abnormalities in heart function and resolve them swiftly, allowing cancer therapy to continue uninterrupted. Depending on the kind of treatment, they may additionally prescribe cardioprotective drugs such as beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, statins, and dexrazoxane. Furthermore, they advocate for heart-healthy lifestyle changes such as good eating habits, daily walks, and stopping smoking, among others.
  • Adult survivors of childhood cancer should be evaluated for cardiac issues.
  • Childhood cancer treatment has advanced in recent decades, allowing more youngsters to become long-term survivors. However, the very therapies that have helped children to survive cancer may have unintended cardiovascular adverse effects that might not manifest themselves for 10 years or more.
  • Childhood cancer survivors have already been through a lot at such a young age. They are typically cancer-free now and just want to live a regular life without worrying about health issues.

Some hearts are more vulnerable than others

Aside from infants, women and all people aged 60 and over are thought to be at a greater risk of cardiotoxic adverse effects. The following health issues are linked to the development or worsening of cardiovascular disease in general, and they may significantly enhance the risk of heart damage during cancer therapy:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Obesity and high cholesterol
  • Pre-existing cardiac conditions

Early detection of heart issues is critical. Cardio-oncologists can put procedures in place to keep certain heart problems from worsening. In rare situations, they can even aid in the healing of previous injuries.