Adult cancer survivors have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than people without a history of … [+] cancer.
Adult cancer survivors are at a higher risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases than people in the general population, according to a new study.
The research published in the journal Journal of the American College of Cardiology, led by scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, showed that people who have survived cancer are at a 42% higher risk of cardiovascular disease than people with no history of cancer.
“Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death among some cancer survivors, and that risk is oftentimes neglected,” said Roberta Florido, M.D., M.H.S., first author of the paper and assistant professor of medicine and director of cardio-oncology at the Johns Hopkins University.
The study looked at 12,414 participants, of which 3,250 had a history of cancer. Cancer survivors were found to have a 52% higher risk of developing heart failure and 22% higher risk of stroke compared to those with no cancer history. However, the study found no increased risk of coronary heart disease in those with a history of cancer, compared to people with no history of cancer.
“Cancer” is an umbrella term for broadly 200 different types of malignant disease and the researchers found that the risk of cardiovascular disease was higher in survivors of certain types of cancer than others. Looking at these different cancer types, the researchers found that survivors of breast, lung and colorectal cancers as well as blood cancers were at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. However, survivors of prostate cancer were found to have no increased risk.
“Major advances in cancer treatment mean that patients are living longer and longer. This means we now need to pay attention to other chronic diseases, especially heart disease, in cancer survivors,” said Elizabeth Selvin, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and senior author of the study.
The study wasn’t designed to look for the particular causes of this increased risk, but there are several possibilities. One is the specific treatments used to treat certain cancers. Anthracycline chemotherapies, for example are well-known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Similarly, radiotherapy to the chest is known to increase risk of cardiovascular disease, sometimes many years after treatment.
“More research is needed to better understand why cancer survivors have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and whether this is partly explained by the negative cardiac effects of some cancer therapies,” says Florido. “We hope our research increases awareness of heart disease risk in those who survive cancer and that health care providers actively reinforce the importance of prevention,” Florido added.