According to statistics from the National Cancer Institute, cancer patients of all ages are living longer after cancer treatment. Yet, as cancer survival rates go up, there is also an increase in health concerns related to the powerful medicine that it takes to beat cancer.
Even though today’s cancer therapies are less toxic and more targeted than they were in the past, some cancer treatments can still damage other parts of the body such as bones, the heart or other organs.
Thankfully, there are four ways to stay heart healthy if you are about to undergo cancer treatment. Follow these recommendations from Ruchika Husa, MD, a cardiologist specializing in cardio-oncology in Denver, Colorado:
Make sure your heart is healthy beforehand.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet and quitting tobacco have all shown to be effective in reducing negative side effects from certain cancer drugs.
Know your risk.
If you are at high risk for heart disease due to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use, obesity or family history of early heart disease, talk to your cancer care team about your treatment options and ways to regularly monitor your heart. Catching problems early will make them easier to treat.
Pay attention to your heart.
Symptoms such as chest pain, new shortness of breath, racing or pounding heart, leg swelling may be signs of heart disease. If you are already receiving cancer treatment, you may need to change your treatment plan, and if you have already had treatment, you may need follow-up care.
Find an expert.
If you have new or developing risk factors, or if you already have heart disease, you may want to find a cardio-oncologist to join your cancer care team. Cardio-oncologists are a new type of medical sub-specialist that closely evaluate patients and work with existing cancer care teams to find better or alternative treatments to minimize negative side effects to the heart.
Dr. Husa is a cardiologist specializing in cardio-oncology and the treatment of cardiovascular disease in Denver, Colorado. To learn more about her, click here.