A new study indicates that women who suffer heart failure as a result of specific breast cancer therapies are typically healthier and have a better prognosis than those who acquire heart failure for other reasons.
Women With Heart Failures Due To Breast Cancer Treatments Are Less Prone To Health Risks
Two commonly used breast cancer therapies are known to be harmful to the heart. Anthracyclines are a kind of chemotherapy medication that interferes with cancer cells’ DNA and capacity to proliferate. Trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody, inhibits the protein that causes HER2-positive breast cancer to spread aggressively. It is frequently given in conjunction with chemotherapy. One in every five instances of breast cancer is HER2-positive.
Several doctors and patients manage heart failure following breast cancer therapy as if it were any other case, according to Dr. Abdel-Qadir, who is a cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital at the University of Toronto.
There was an implicit presumption that this was similar to heart failure from other reasons, such as after a heart attack, when the prognosis may be extremely poor – even though they didn’t have any statistics for it, he added. As a result, they attempted to fill the void.
The researchers examined data from persons in Ontario, Canada, where universal health care is provided to all citizens, between 2007 and 2017. They compared two groups of heart failure women. When compared to a control group without a history of cancer, those who had been treated for early-stage breast cancer were less likely to develop additional health issues such as atrial fibrillation, elevated blood pressure, or diabetes.
Over eight years, women treated for breast cancer were less likely than those who were not to be hospitalized or attend the emergency department for heart failure.
The sort of cancer treatment these women got was important. The proportion of women using anthracyclines who visited or were admitted to the hospital was similar to that of the control group. The rate for women using trastuzumab with or without anthracyclines, on the other hand, was lower. Unlike women who just take anthracyclines, those who take trastuzumab must undergo an echocardiography every three months to search for symptoms of heart issues, which may explain the reduced incidence of heart failure necessitating hospitalization in this group.
Females in the cancer group were also less likely to die from cardiovascular reasons after a three-and-a-half-year median follow-up — 2.2 percent died from cardiovascular disease compared to 5.1 percent in the control group.
The findings were published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure on Wednesday.
According to Dr. Susan Faye Dent, a medical oncologist at Duke Cancer Center in Durham, North Carolina, the risk of getting heart failure following anthracyclines or trastuzumab is generally minimal.
According to a 2018 study on cardiovascular disease and breast cancer from the American Heart Association, up to 4% of patients taking trastuzumab with chemotherapy may suffer heart failure — however, Dent, who co-authored the research, noted greater percentages have been recorded in other studies. The risk of heart failure with anthracyclines is proportional to the cumulative dosage, with lower doses linked with a 5% risk of heart failure.
According to Dent, who was not involved in the current study, the risk of dying from cancer probably remains considerably higher if people do not receive adequate cancer therapy, compared to the chance of dying from cardiovascular disease.
As oncologists, they must ensure that their patients receive the best possible cancer therapy while minimizing the risk of severe side effects such as heart failure, she says. And, while the study found that breast cancer survivors who experienced heart failure had better outcomes than predicted, their objective should always be to provide the best cancer therapy possible without negatively affecting the heart.
Women undergoing breast cancer treatment who are concerned about their heart health can collaborate with doctors to reduce their risk of damage, according to Dent. This should always be discussed between the patient, the oncologist, and the cardiologist to optimize cancer therapy while reducing the risk of cardiovascular damage.