Cancer treatment medications and radiation therapy can save your life following a cancer diagnosis. Occasionally, these same medications or treatments can lead to cardiovascular complications. Some cancer treatments can cause damage your heart, worsen existing heart issues, or make your risk of heart disease greater. Southeast Cancer Center's Cardio-Oncology program has been designed to prevent or reduce the risks of cardiac events in patients taking medications or treatments for cancer.
Cardiac complications can include:
- Change in the normal heart rhythm
- Change how efficiently the heart pumps
- Injury to heart valves or blood vessels
- Heart attack (Myocardial lnfarction)
Our Cardio-Oncology team can help determine if a patient with cancer may be at risk for developing a heart condition before, during, or after cancer treatment. Our goal is to decrease the chance of cancer therapy interruptions and complications.
What health issues increase risk of cardiac complications during cancer treatments?
- History of heart failure or cardiomyopathy
- High Cholesterol
- Current smoker
- History of heart valve disorder
- Coronary artery disease
- History of heart attack
- Previous radiation to the chest
Southeast Cancer Center's Cardio-Oncology program utilizes the following to reduce the risks of heart damage that might occur during cancer treatment:
- Cardiologists are available to evaluate patient's cardiac status and work directly with our Cancer Doctors to help protect heart function during all aspects of cancer treatment.
- Specific lab work can help diagnose heart disease. These labs are drawn before your treatment, as well as at certain timepoints throughout.
- Echocardiograms (ultrasounds of the heart) are used to evaluate heart function and structure. Your specific treatment will direct our team when an echocardiogram needs to be ordered.
What symptoms do I watch for?
- Shortness of Breath, either with movement or at rest
- Swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles
- High blood pressure
- Fast/Irregular heartbeat
- Chest pain or discomfort
- What can be done to protect my heart function?
- Cardio-protective medications such as:
- Beta Blockers (Carvedilol/Coreg or Nebivolol/Bystolic)
- ACE Inhibitors (Lisinopril or Enalapril)
- Diuretic (Spironolactone)
- It may be necessary to reduce the dose of the cancer medications, slow treatments, or stop them completely
Often, once the cancer treatment is finished, the heart function may show improvement. Therefore, your Cardio-Oncology team will monitor you and your test results even after you are treated. At that point, it may be possible to reduce cardio-protective medications or stop them completely. The Cardio-Oncology program is committed to providing quality cancer treatment while decreasing the potential damage to your heart.