Cardiovascular disease: Cancer survivors may be at risk 2023


A study published today in the online journal Heart suggests that breast and blood cancer survivors may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

The cardiovascular health of 18,714 UK Biobank participants with a history of malignancy was evaluated by researchers.

The summary of cancer types appeared as follows:

  • lung – 313
  • breast – 9,531
  • prostate – 3,291
  • blood – 2,230
  • uterine – 937
  • colon – 2,412

The participants’ average age was 62, and roughly two-thirds of them were female.

On the basis of age and conventional risk factors, the researchers matched the participants to control subjects. The control group had no prior history of malignancy.

For approximately 12 years, the cardiovascular health of the participants and the controls was monitored.

Approximately one-third of cancer survivors developed one or more of the conditions listed below.

  • ischemic heart disease
  • stroke
  • atrial fibrillation
  • heart failure
  • non-ischemic cardiomyopathies
  • blood clots in the veins, arteries, or lungs
  • pericarditis

The cancer-related risk of cardiovascular disease

New cardiovascular diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and heart disease, have emerged in:

  • 49% of lung cancer patients survive
  • 48% of surviving blood cancer patients
  • 41% of prostate cancer surviving patients

Survivors of blood cancer had a substantially increased risk of developing all cardiovascular diseases studied. Additionally, MRI imaging revealed alterations in the size and function of their hearts.

The researchers noted that individuals with blood cancer are typically exposed to heart-damaging chemotherapies and radiotherapies that can harm the chest wall overlying the heart.

The probability of developing and dying from heart failure and non-ischemic cardiomyopathies was elevated among breast cancer survivors. They were also more likely than the control group to be diagnosed with pericarditis. This group was more prone to exhibit functional heart change on MRI scans.

In the first year following a cancer diagnosis, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease or complications is typically the highest. Aside from this study, little is known about the long-term dangers of heart disease among cancer survivors. There are also few studies that use scans to determine whether or not there is injury that has not yet manifested symptoms.

Blood and breast cancers are associated with the highest risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the findings of the study.

19% of cancer survivors perished during the observation period, compared to 8% of the control group. In one out of every 12 cancer survivors, cardiovascular disease was the leading cause of mortality.

The research had some limitations:

  • It was observational and did not establish a causal relationship.
  • Few individuals had survived lung and uterine cancer.
  • They had no information regarding cancer’s grade, stage, or treatments.
  • Since the majority of participants were white, it is unknown whether these results apply to individuals of other races and ethnicities.
  • correlated risk factors

The researchers observed that risk factors for cardiovascular disease were prevalent among cancer patients.

Among these risk factors are:

  • cigarette smoking elevated blood pressure weight gain
  • Diabetes was present in approximately one-tenth of participants with lung, uterine, and colon cancer. Approximately 18% had a history of cardiovascular disease.

A study published in the Journals of the American College of Cardiology last year revealed that cardiovascular disease and malignancy share the following risk factors:

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • excess weight

However, the researchers observed that these risk factors alone cannot explain the increased risk of cardiovascular disease among cancer survivors. They suggest that cancer treatments, such as radiation and systemic therapies, and the effects of cancer on the body (via inflammation or oxidative stress), may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in this population.

They concluded that a combination of treatments and lifestyle factors are responsible for the increase in heart disease rates.

Reducing the incidence of malignancy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer, as well as methods for detecting the disease early to improve your chances of survival.

Tests for cancer detection – There are numerous cancer detection procedures and tests. A mammogram detects breast cancer, while a colonoscopy detects colon cancer. As a smoker or former smoker, an individual is eligible for a lung cancer screening. Discussing your lifestyle, family history, occupation, and other risk factors with a medical professional can help determine the optimal cancer screenings.

Vaccines – Vaccines are available to reduce the risk of developing certain malignancies. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine aids in the prevention of the HPV virus, which has been linked to malignancies such as cervical cancer.

National Cancer Institute Reliable Source recommends that minors aged 11 or 12 receive the vaccine. It is deemed efficacious when administered until age 26. Ideally, females should receive contraception before engaging in sexual activity.

To reduce your risk of cancer, the National Institutes of Health recommend not smoking or ceasing if you do smoke. In addition, implementing healthy behaviors such as regular exercise, weight loss, and healthy eating can reduce the risks. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, plant-based diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, diminish inflammation, which in turn reduces cancer risk.

Reducing the incidence of cardiac disease

Heart disease and cancer share many risk factors, so lifestyle factors, such as regular exercise and a diet rich in plant-based foods, will also aid in the prevention of heart disease.

According to the American Heart AssociationReliable Source, heart disease screening tests include:

  • Cholesterol is measured by blood tests; there are lifestyle factors and medications that can aid in cholesterol management.
  • Blood tests to measure blood glucose – elevated blood glucose levels can contribute to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Blood pressure – blood pressure is typically measured during routine medical examinations. A healthful blood pressure is less than 120/80 millimeters of mercury.

Based on your body mass index and waist circumference, health care professionals can assess your risk for cardiovascular disease. For the majority of adults, a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 is healthy, 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, and 30 and above is considered obese.
The keys to a healthy lifestyle are not smoking, eating well, and exercising frequently.

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