Many cancer treatments, although necessary, can be very damaging to the heart.
New research suggests that damage to the heart can be lowered in women with breast tumors if they take a heart drug as a preventative measure during their cancer care.
The new study was done in Norway and results were discussed at the American Heart Association conference in Orlando.
If further testing confirms this idea, this could improve care for thousands of breast cancer patients in the United State alone each year. It could also potentially help other women and some men who also get these treatments for other types of cancer.
Currently, cancer patients are referred to cardiologists after certain cancer drugs or radiation treatments have already weakened their hearts. Hospitals are creating special clinics to take care of the growing number of cancer survivors with this problem.
Researchers assert that if they wait until the disease has occurred to treat it, it may be too late. The cardiology community has to do a better job of preventing cardiac arrest rather than working retroactively after damage has occurred. Certain cancer drugs can hinder the heart’s ability to pump which can lead to heart failure.
Radiation is like introducing poison into the body, but it is necessary to fight cancer. Unfortunately, heart problems can be one of the downfalls.
The new study was aimed to prevent cardiac side effects. It involved 120 women with early-stage breast cancer and tested two drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
The women in the study were given one or both drugs or placebo pills and their hearts’ pumping ability was assessed at various times with MRI scans.
Heart damage was worse in the group of placebo pills. One of the high blood pressure pills had success, although minimal. It improved pumping strength from 2% to 3% compared to the placebo group.
The effect was very small so it is still unknown whether it prevents heart failure from developing down the road. More research is necessary, but researchers are hopeful.
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