Cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors

Tochi M Okwuosa, Sarah Anzevino, Ruta Rao
Postgraduate Medical Journal 2017, 93 (1096): 82-90
Certain cancer therapies, including radiation therapy and some types of chemotherapies, are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and events. Some of these effects such as those presented by anthracyclines, radiation therapy, cisplatin, as well as those presented by hormone therapy for breast cancer-usually taken for many years for some breast and prostate cancers-are long-lasting and associated with cardiovascular events risk more than 20 years after cancer treatment. Cardiovascular testing, diagnostic assessment of suspected cardiovascular symptomatology, as well as laboratory tests for CVD risk factors are imperative. The early recognition and treatment of CVD processes that arise in survivorship years is pivotal, with specific attention to some CVD processes with specific suggested treatment modalities. Preventive measures include adequate screening, the use of medications such as ACE inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers and/or beta blockers, statin therapy and aspirin in persons who warrant these medications, as well as therapeutic lifestyle modifications such as exercise/physical activity, weight loss and appropriate diet for a healthy lifestyle. Periodic follow-up with a good primary care physician who understands the risks associated with cancer therapy is important, and referral to onco-cardiology for further management of cardiovascular risk in these survivors is based on a patient's cardiovascular risk level and the type, amount and duration of cancer therapies received during the patient's lifetime.


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