06 March 2018

The risk of heart failure is increased among people with a history of breast cancer or lymphoma, according to new analysis.

Data to be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 67th Annual Scientific Session shows that these patients are at an increased risk of heart failure for up to 20 years after recovery. 

The study, which was undertaken as part of the Mayo Clinic’s Rochester Epidemiological Project, is believed to be one of the first to directly compare the rate of heart failure in cancer patients. The cohort were compared to patients without the disease who were well-matched for age, gender and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The research team followed 1,550 people with heart failure but without cancer - and 900 people with breast cancer or lymphoma from 1985 to 2010. 

They found that roughly 7% cancer patients developed heart failure during the median follow-up of 8.5 years and that people with breast cancer or lymphoma were three times as likely to develop heart failure within five years of their cancer diagnosis as non-cancer patients. 

They remained twice as likely to develop heart failure 20 years after they had finished their cancer treatment when compared with similar patients who did not have cancer.

Lead author Dr Carolyn Larsen, assistant professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic, said: “The risk of heart failure doesn’t go away after a couple of years. It’s a long-term issue that patients need to discuss with their doctors and use as motivation to stay heart healthy.

“Cancer patients need to have good primary care and cardiology follow-up to make sure all of their risk factors for heart disease are optimally controlled. They should also be assessed for signs and symptoms of heart failure every year so that they can be diagnosed and started on appropriate medical treatment early on.”

She said the findings raise important questions about monitoring patients for heart problems after they have had cancer treatment. Some patients may need increased cardiac imaging, she suggested.

“It’s an area that needs to be better defined. An echocardiogram is usually done six to 12 months after cancer treatment with an anthracycline, but how often should it be done after that?” she asked.

“We need to be more vigilant in making sure we try to prevent or control heart issues post-cancer care, especially in light of the growing appreciation of the connection between some cancer treatments and heart disease.”

Dr Larsen will present ‘Short and Long-Term Risk of Congestive Heart Failure in Breast Cancer and Lymphoma Patients Compared to Controls: an Epidemiologic Study’ on Saturday 10 March at the at the American College of Cardiology's 67th Annual Scientific Session.


Source: American College of Cardiology's 67th Annual Scientific Session


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