The health of your heart can be affected by any number of medical conditions, including cancer.
That's the focus of Wednesday's edition of "Heart Health" with Dr. Ramin Artang from Mercy Cardiology.
Here's Matt Breen:
MATT: Dr. Artang, what is the relation between the heart and cancer? Can one get cancer of the heart?
ARTANG: The answer is yes. You can get cancer in any tissue including the heart. It is, however, very rare, but it happens. There are in general 2 types of that. One that originates from the heart tissue itself, and the other one is cancer somewhere else that spreads to the heart. Both conditions are very rare and do not have a good prognosis for the patient.
MATT: How about patients with cancer who get chemotherapy?
ARTANG: This issue is much more common than having cancer of the heart. There are several types of chemotherapy treatment agents: couple of examples are adriamycin and herceptin. One is usually used for treatment of lymphomas and the one for breast cancer. These medications are excellent in fighting and shrinking the cancer but can be damaging to the heart muscle and can make the heart weaker and in that way, in rare cases, can cause congestive heart failure. This side effect, of course, is very rare, and our oncology colleagues are very good at checking the heart function every 3 months or so when a patient is on such medicine.
MATT: How would the person know that their heart is being affected by the chemotherapy?
ARTANG: The main symptom is shortness of breath. This is, again, a challenge both for the patient and the doctor since the chemotherapy also causes fatigue, deconditioning, as well as makes the patient more vulnerable to get infections like pneumonia. So when a person is short of breath, the question is what is the cause? So if the person is on these types of chemotherapy that we mentioned, then the heart should be checked again.
MATT: Can you treat this condition?
ARTANG: Yes. The treatment is usually the same treatment that we use for other types of congestive heart failure. Most people would respond well to the treatment and feel better once they start appropriate treatment. The majority would get their heart function normalized. Occasionally the damage can be severe and permanent, but the main issue is that they have survived the cancer and we as cardiologist would help them get through the heart condition as well.
If you have a question for Dr. Artang, just go to our website, ktiv.com, and click on the "health" tab at the top of the home page.
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