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Double Whammy: Heart Damages Due to Chemotherapy Higher in Patients with Diabetes, New Study Shows

Dec 13, 2016 09:53 AM EST
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In her research, Dr. Gomez did a scientific probe on the various factors that could affect and/or contribute to the likelihood of patients to incur heart damage after chemotherapy treatment.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan / Staff)

Chemotherapy, today's leading drug treatment for cancer, can be tougher on your heart when you have diabetes. This is what an emerging study presented at the EuroEcho-Imaging 2016.1 last December 10 suggested.

"Cardiotoxicity induced by chemotherapy with anthracyclines is being increasingly reported, mainly because a smaller proportion of patients now die from cancer," the study's lead author Dr. Ana Catarina Gomes told Eureka Alert, "In the coming years this cardiotoxicity looks set to increase the burden of heart failure in cancer survivors."

A cardiologist in training at the Hospital Garcia de Orta in Almada, Portugal, Dr. Gomez said, "The good news is that cardiotoxicity can be reversible in the early stages before overt heart failure develops. Surveillance programmes are hugely beneficial, particularly in the first year of treatment when up to 80% of the systolic dysfunction develops."

In her research, Dr. Gomez did a scientific probe on the various factors that could affect and/or contribute to the risk of patients to incur heart damage after treatment with anthracyclines, a specific class of drugs derived from Streptomyces bacterium Streptomyces peucetius var. caesiusused and used in cancer chemotherapy. She looked into 83 patients under the surveillance programmer run by the Cardiology, Oncology, and Haematology department of Hospital Garcia de Orta. Among the participants, 54 had breast cancer, 20 had lymphoma, and 9 had gastric cancer. They gave 39 patients doxorubicin, and the remaining 44 received epirubicin.

Explaining the results of the study, Dr. Gomez stated:

"Subclinical reduction in global longitudinal strain is an early predictor of heart failure and was particularly pronounced in patients with diabetes. It is possible that the trend for greater reduction in patients with hypertension might become statistically significant in a larger study."

"We hypothesize that cancers themselves could have direct cardiotoxic effects induced by cytokines. These cardiotoxic effects may vary with the type of cancer," she continued.

In conclusion, Dr. Gomez advised cancer patients to prevent cardiovascular risks by following a heart-healthy lifestyle and the appropriate medications if need be. "But of course cardiovascular prevention should never postpone the beginning of chemotherapy since treating cancer is the first priority," she adds quickly, an article by Heath Medicine Network writes.

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