Certain breast cancer treatments may take a toll on the heart, but women can take steps to minimize the risks, according to a new report from the American Heart Association.
It’s well-known that treatments such as chest radiation and certain drugs can damage the heart, sometimes leading to chronic heart disease. The AHA report, published Feb. 1 in the journal Circulation, gives an overview of the issue as well as some advice for women.
“The intent is not to scare women away from any breast cancer treatments,” stressed Dr. Laxmi Mehta, the lead author of the report and director of the women’s cardiovascular health program at Ohio State University.
Rather, she said, the most important question women should ask when making treatment decisions is, “What is the best treatment for my breast cancer?”
“Then it becomes, ‘What are the side effects?’ ” Mehta said. “If there is a risk of [heart effects], you can ask, ‘How will I be monitored?’ ”
Because the heart risks associated with certain cancer treatments are well-recognized, those types of discussions should already be happening, according to Dr. Richard Steingart, chief of cardiology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
From the start, women should have their cardiovascular health evaluated, Steingart said. Then, they and their doctors should try to get any heart disease risk factors under the best control possible.
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