In a new study, researchers found that cancer treatment could bring risks to heart health and lead to diseases such as heart failure.
However, many doctors and patients are not fully aware of the dangers.
The study reveals an urgent need to look after the hearts of these patients. The research was conducted by a team from Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.
Currently, the number of cancer survivors is growing, and more people over-65s need chronic cancer therapy.
Previous research has shown that heart failure caused by cancer therapy can occur up to 20 years after treatment. This means that the need for cardio-oncology services is rising.
In the current study, the team reviewed medical records of 46 randomly selected cancer patients who attended one of three hospitals between 1979 and 2015.
They found that when receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy, between 1% and 25% of cancer patients may develop heart failure due to cancer treatment.
However, many doctors don’t tell cancer patients about the heart health risks of treatments. In fact, they may not be fully aware of the dangers themselves.
In addition, heart disease risk may increase due to smoking and obesity.
The team also found that patients in an interview could not articulate their heart health needs.
More than half said they started eating healthily after the cancer diagnosis but they knew little about a balanced diet.
The team suggests that it is important to do better monitoring of the heart and intervention before, during and after cancer treatment.
Doctors should also tell their patients the risks to their heart before starting cancer therapy.
They need to help the patients quit smoking, eat healthily, exercise, and control their weight. If the patients have signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, they need to report immediately.
The lead author of the study is Professor Robyn Clark from Flinders University.
The study is presented at EuroHeartCare 2019, a scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
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