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Patients With Breast Cancer or Lymphoma Have Increased Risk of Heart Failure

Kaitlynn Ely
Patients who had breast cancer or lymphoma who were treated more than 3 times are more likely to develop congestive heart failure than those who did not have cancer, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session.
Patients who had breast cancer or lymphoma who were treated more than 3 times are more likely to develop congestive heart failure than those who did not have cancer, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic used data from the Rochester Epidemiology project to compare heart failure cases between 900 patients with breast cancer or lymphoma and 1550 patients without cancer in Olmstead County, Minnesota, from 1985 to 2010.

“The majority of patients do not develop heart failure, but our research helps us recognize the factors associated with it and the importance of appropriate heart care following cancer treatment,” said lead author Carolyn Larsen, MD, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, in a press release. “Our research suggests that periodic cardiac imaging to monitor for heart damage may be needed for some cancer patients even if they have no signs of heart damage initially after chemotherapy. Additionally, it emphasizes that working to live a heart-healthy lifestyle is important for cancer patients and survivors to reduce the overall risk of heart disease.”

The data showed that the risk of heart failure increased from 1 year after cancer diagnosis until 20 years after treatment is completed. Within 5 years of their diagnosis, patients with cancer were 3 times more likely to have heart failure, and nearly 7% of patients with cancerdeveloped heart failure at a median follow-up of 8.5 years.

Other factors, such as having diabetes or receiving high doses of anthracycline chemotherapy, were associated with an increased risk for heart failure. This type of chemotherapy is known to cause heart damage in patients as it mutates the heart muscle’s DNA.

“We discovered that diabetes also was a strong risk factor, but we don’t know what happens in the body that makes heart failure more likely in these patients,” added senior author Hector Villarraga, MD, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist. This discovery points to the need for further research, he said. 

The Mayo Clinic researchers recommended all patients with breast cancer and lymphoma be assessed annually for symptoms of heart failure, which include shortness of breath, fatigue, feelings of weakness, swelling in the legs or abdomen, irregular heartbeat, rapid weight gain, and pressure in the chest while lying in a supine position.

 
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