Cancer Can Cause Heart Failure

A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting has found that cancer increases cardiac stress, which is further accentuated by chemotherapy.

While chemotherapeutic agents have long known to cause cardiac effects, a new study has found an association between cancer and heart failure. As a follow-up on a rat model that had identified symptoms of cancer cachexia, a follow-up study of 50 patients with colorectal cancer, 51 with heart failure, and 51 healthy controls found a mild elevation in heart rate in patients with colorectal cancer compared with the other cohorts.

The results were presented by study investigator Dr Stephan von Haeling, a cardiologist at the Charity Medical School, Berlin, at the European Society of Cardiology. “In patients with advanced cancer, significant alterations exist in several markers of cardiovascular perturbation independent of high-dose chemotherapy. So it looks like the cancer is doing something that’s further worsened when chemotherapy starts,” he explained

The study found that heart rate variability, exercise capacity, and left ventricular ejection fraction were significantly lower in cancer patients than controls, and even lower in heart failure patients. Interestingly, major determinants of cardiovascular function were impaired in chemotherapy-naive cancer patients, compared with controls, and even more severely impaired in cancer patients on chemotherapy.