The Relationship Between Cancer and Heart Disease
Cancer and heart disease are the two leading causes of death in the United States, but one of the greatest challenges cardiologists and oncologists face is that certain cancer treatments could contribute to a weaker heart.
While chemotherapy is essential in the treatment of most cancers, several chemotherapeutic agents can weaken the heart or even lead to heart failure. According to Dr. Zain Azzo of Cardiology Associates of Michigan, two specific agents of interest are Trastuzumab and Doxorubicin, which are commonly prescribed in breast cancer cases. While their benefit in treating breast cancer is substantial, careful monitoring for heart side effects is important.
Despite these challenges, cardiologists and oncologists can work together to create the best prognosis.
If you are prescribed one or both of these agents, keep the following in mind:
- If you have traditional risk factors for heart disease, like hypertension and diabetes, you have to make sure they are well controlled.
- Your oncologist will likely recommend serial echocardiograms, which are ultrasounds of the heart. These can detect early involvement of the heart while you are on chemotherapy.
- You should talk to your cardiologist if you have any symptoms of shortness of breath, excessive fatigue, lower extremity swelling, or palpitations.
For more information about the relationship between cancer and heart disease, contact Cardiology Associates of Michigan or schedule an appointment to see one of our heart doctors.