In a new scientific statement, researchers suggest that cardiac rehab may help cancer patients to protect their heart health.
The finding suggests that therapy for heart attack patients could also benefit cancer survivors.
The statement is issued by researchers from the American Heart Association.
Heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in the U.S.
The two health conditions can sometimes intertwine. For example, some chemotherapies for cancer treatments may damage the heart muscle.
In addition, cancer patients who gain more weight and lose their fitness during recovery may develop diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, which are big risk factors for heart disease.
Recent research has shown that cancer patients are 1.3 to 3.6 times more likely to die from heart disease compared to people who have never had cancer.
So how to protect heart health in cancer patients?
In the current statement, the team suggests that a cardiac rehab plan like the one heart attack survivors follow may provide the answer.
The researchers explain how age, the type of cancer and whether chemotherapy was involved could influence a patient’s heart disease risk.
A cardiac rehab plan can help get patients’ heart back to a stronger and healthier functional status.
Cardiac rehab is a medically supervised program for people who have had a heart attack or some type of heart surgery.
A plan may include exercise training, education about healthy lifestyles and counseling to help reduce stress and anxiety.
In the U.S., both community and academic hospitals can provide cardiac rehab programs. But health insurance does not cover them.
The team also suggest that cardio-oncology rehabilitation can help treat heart health problems in cancer survivors.
Previous studies have shown that physical activity may help people regain heart fitness lost during cancer treatment.
The team suggests that cardiac rehab could help lowers the risk of cancer mortality for several types of cancer. It also prevents heart disease.
Future work needs to explore the method and find out when is the best time to initiate therapy.
The lead author of the study is Dr. Susan Gilchrist, chair of the statement’s writing committee and a cardiologist at the University of Texas in Houston.
The statement is published in Circulation.
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