Heart Health During Cancer Treatment

The short-term effects of cancer treatment are well-known. Nausea, vomiting, and hair loss are some of the most noticeable side effects. But did you know that cancer treatment can also have long-term effects? These are known as late effects and they can include cardiovascular damage. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, consider visiting a specialist at a heart hospital to discuss protecting your heart health during your treatment. MountainView Hospital emphasizes the importance of patient education for promoting heart health.

Chemotherapy and other forms of cancer treatment can save lives, but the heart and arteries may suffer long-term damage. Many drugs used to treat a wide range of cancers can weaken the heart. High cumulative doses of some of these drugs can adversely affect the left ventricle, which may lead to heart failure. In men with testicular cancer, platinum-based agents are commonly prescribed. Unfortunately, these may inflict damage on the arterial walls, perhaps causing angina or Reynaud’s disease. To guard against the cardiovascular late effects of chemotherapy , doctors can closely monitor the lifetime dose for a particular drug and may lower the dose or discontinue the medicine to protect the heart. Alternatively, some patients may be placed on medicines that support cardiovascular health.

Radiation Therapy
Patients with lung, breast, or esophageal cancer may receive radiotherapy to the chest wall area. Radiation therapy can shrink tumors, but it may also induce inflammation of the pericardium, which is the sac that covers the heart. Over time, patients may develop heart rhythm abnormalities, heart valve deficits, and stiffened, narrow arteries. The possibility of having a heart attack later in life may increase. Furthermore, if the patient requires an angioplasty or bypass surgery for a heart attack, the damage inflicted by radiation therapy can make these procedures more complicated.

Medical Monitoring
These late effects are a major concern for cancer survivors, but there are ways to be proactive about heart health during and after cancer treatment. Patients can pay close attention to unusual changes such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and swelling of the legs, and seek medical care promptly. It’s also important to protect cardiovascular health by making smart lifestyle choices. Managing stress, reducing dietary cholesterol and sodium, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight are all good steps to take.

At MountainView Hospital, your wellness and quality of life are our priorities. The caring clinicians at our heart hospital in Las Vegas develop personalized treatment recommendations and provide supportive lifestyle counseling for each of our patients. To find out more about our heart health services, call a registered nurse at (702) 962-5021.

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