Cardiovascular risk a gap in survivorship care


Kathy LaTour blog image

It's hard to imagine that someone who has been through cancer would have to worry about dying of cardiac disease, but according to a new study, long-term cancer survivors have more risk factors for cardiovascular disease than those who have not had cancer.

The 1,582 survivors of breast, prostate, colorectal and gynecologic cancers who were studied came from two California cancer registries who were recruited from four to 14 years past treatment.

Once accepted into the study, the survivors were sent a survey that asked them to self report about a number of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, including smoking, body mass index, physical inactivity, cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes. It also asked whether the survivor had discussed these factors and living a healthier lifestyle with their health care providers.

The results are rather astounding. Except for smoking, risk factors for cardiovascular disease were more common among survivors than the general public: 62 percent were overweight or obese, 55 percent had hypertension, 20 percent were diabetic, and 18 percent described themselves as inactive. Five percent said they smoked. Hispanic and African-American survivors had a greater number of CVD risk factors, particularly obesity and diabetes.

One third said they had not discussed their cardiovascular factors with their physicians.

This study points again to the importance of primary care physicians understanding the cancer history of their patients, and cancer patients understanding their susceptibility to cardiovascular disease.

We continue to focus on the need for patients to leave treatment with the understanding that their lives will be different because of their cancer therapy, particularly if they have had radiation and chemotherapy, both of which can impact their heart.

Take charge of your future. Get a survivorship care plan for your future. Stop smoking, start moving and begin eating for your health. You have a number of years ahead of you if you do.

You can read more from my CURE article on the subject: "Planning for Cancer Survivorship."



So is it enough to just follow up with your GP or should you see a heart specialist? I have a family history of heart problems with my father passing away 12 years ago from congestive heart failure and my mother having atrial fib issues for 13 years. Additionally, the 3rd of 4 CT scans of the chest mentioned, "The heart is normal in size. There is atherosclerosis of the aorta
and coronary arteries." The 4th did not mention the atherosclerosis, so did it go away or just not commented on.
- Posted by Michele 4/22/13 10:13 AM

I questioned my oncologist at my 6 month follow-up visit yesterday about having to see a cardiologist prior to starting chemo, yet there was no follow-up after treatment was over. I am a 4 year breast cancer survivor and my chemo regimen was TAC and Avastin. He said it wasn't necessary for a cardio follow up. I am hypertensive and have been on meds for it for about 12 years now. I have always trusted my oncologists judgement, but I still wonder.
- Posted by Linda Rivera 6/11/13 4:51 PM


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