The risk of heart disease and heart failure may increase from chemotherapy and other treatments for breast cancer, even several years, according to a warning from the American Cardiology Association. The American Heart Association (AHA), published in the journal Circulation, summarizes for the first time the risk factors common to breast cancer and heart disease and presents what is interaction they have.
It is not the case that women do not treat cancer, but these treatments are done to minimize the risk to their hearts. This, says AHA, is a new reminder to oncologists that anti-cancer treatments can have even serious side effects for the heart.
Indicatively, women over 65 who have had breast cancer treatment in the past are more likely to die later than their heart than cancer.
“Every patient to be treated for breast cancer, whether or not already having heart disease, should be aware of the possible effects of these therapies in her heart,” said AHA scientists, headed by the assistant professor, Laxmi Mehta, State University of Ohio.
Some anticancer therapies, such as targeted HER-2, can weaken the myocardium and thus lead to heart failure. In some cases, impairment of heart function may be temporary and heart function may improve after discontinuation of treatment, but in some cancer patients, heart failure may be permanent.
Therefore, AHA stresses the need for evidence of heart failure at the beginning of anticancer therapy to be delayed or modified. Previous studies have shown that in particular a drug, doxorubicin, widely used in chemotherapies, can cause damage to heart cells. However, the risk of heart failure decreases if the drug is administered slowly rather than by half.
Other treatments, such as radiotherapy, can damage the arteries of the heart, causing coronary heart disease and blockage in the bloodstream. Some substances such as anthracyclines can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, while antimetabolite treatments can cause spasms in the arteries, resulting in chest pains or even heart attacks.
Breast cancer and heart disease share several common risk factors, such as advanced age, poor nutrition, family history, physical inactivity and smoking. Appropriate lifestyle changes can reduce the risk for both conditions. For their part, oncologists have said that the American cardiologists’ announcement should not discourage women with breast cancer from doing more aggressive treatment if necessary.