Many existing and emerging cancer therapies have a significant effect on the cardiovascular health of patients with cancer and cancer survivors. These effects can appear during treatment, or years later.
At MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper, our goal is to prevent, monitor, and treat cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors and patients to ensure long-term health. Our team of leading cardiologists and oncologists collaborate to provide comprehensive cardiovascular care to patients with cancer who have, or are at risk for, heart disease.
Through our Cardio-Oncology Program, patients have access to comprehensive cardiac services including outpatient clinics, inpatient services, echocardiography, electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, cardiac MRI, and nuclear studies.
Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer Patients
Patients undergoing cancer treatment and those who are long-term cancer survivors may have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as some cancer therapies can affect the heart and vascular systems. In fact, the risk of cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors is eight times higher than in the general population. It is important to prevent, monitor and treat cardiovascular disease in cancer survivors and patients to ensure long-term health.
Our team works to:
- Ensure better outcomes for patients with heart disease and cancer
- Recognize early cardio toxicity resulting from cancer treatment
- Prevent, reduce, and when possible, reverse cardiac damage
- Monitor patients with potential cardiac issues undergoing chemo or radiation therapy
- Remove cardiac disease as a barrier to effective cancer therapy
- Provide effective monitoring for cardiovascular issues after therapy
Who Is at Risk?
- Cancer patients with existing heart disease.
- Cancer survivors who have undergone radiation treatment to areas near the heart, or received chemotherapy treatments known to affect the heart.
- Cancer patients currently undergoing chemotherapy with agents know to impact cardiac function. This is important, as research has shown that early treatment may reduce damage or prevent further damage.
What Services Are Available Through the Cardio-Oncology Program?
- Risk Assessment Prior to Cancer Treatment: Before undergoing medical or surgical treatments for cancer, it is important to understand your risk for developing cardiovascular disease. We work closely with your oncologist and provide a comprehensive evaluation prior to cancer therapy to minimize any potential cardiovascular complications from cancer treatment. We combine a complete, personalized assessment with appropriate diagnostic testing and optimal cardiovascular therapies to help ensure your best outcome.
- Care for Cancer Patients with Existing Cardiovascular Disease: Management of conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, heart valve disease and arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms) in cancer patients requires a customized approach to care. Our goal is to treat existing cardiac conditions so that you are healthy enough to respond well to your cancer treatment.
- Monitoring for Cardiac Complications from Cancer Therapy: Many of the chemotherapy agents, such as anthracyclines, can cause some cardiac damage, which can be directly toxic to the heart muscle, or cause hypertension, glucose intolerance, or excessive fluid retention that can weaken the heart. Radiation of the chest can affect the heart and cause heart failure, arrhythmia, valve disease and even heart attacks. If you are actively receiving chemotherapy or have previously completed chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, you may experience symptoms related to hypertension, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, valve disease, pericardial disease and arrhythmias. With early recognition and treatment, many complications of chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy can be managed successfully.
- Assessment of Long-term Cardiac Risk in Cancer Survivors: Research shows that cancer survivors face higher risks of cardiovascular disease than the general public. Our cardiologists provide a comprehensive risk assessment that includes a detailed history, physical examination, lab work and diagnostic testing. Strategies to reduce cardiac risk include dietary and lifestyle modifications and, when appropriate, medical therapy.
- Diagnostic Studies to Assess Cardiovascular Impact: Our team can use advanced diagnostic tests to identify cardiovascular damage as a result of cancer treatment. These may include diagnostic imaging, non-invasive stress testing, serum biomarkers (blood tests which can indicate heart dysfunction), ambulatory blood pressure monitoring and ambulatory cardiac telemetry (continuous monitoring of a patient’s heart from a remote location).