A weekly column addressing your most sought-after health questions, answered by Harbin Clinic’s expert healthcare professionals
Question: I’m a cancer survivor. What do I need to know about my heart health?
Dr. Charles Baggett: Many patients with cancer have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease during or after cancer treatments. Cancer therapies can have a significant impact on the heart, especially for patients who are high-risk for cardiovascular disease or have existing heart conditions.
For these patients, your oncologist may refer you to a cardiologist who specializes in formulating specific treatment plans for individuals who develop heart conditions before, during or after their cancer therapies.
It is highly recommended that cancer patients discuss any pre-existing heart problems with their doctor and inform them of any family history of heart disease prior to beginning treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can weaken the heart muscle or create blockages over time, and consulting with a cardiologist can help minimize your risk of interrupting or delaying cancer treatment due to cardiovascular complications.
Harbin Clinic Cardiologists work alongside medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and other specialties involved in your care to coordinate the most appropriate treatment plan that takes your heart health into account. We will discuss heart disease treatment options and how cancer therapies can impact that disease. We will regularly monitor and treat heart complications that may arise during treatments and provide lifestyle coaching for individuals after cancer therapy. Some heart-healthy tips include:
Eating a healthy diet
Getting adequate sleep
Quitting smoking, if applicable
The cardiologists at Harbin Clinic Cardiology work collaboratively with a team of multidisciplinary experts who are trained to treat your cancer, while appropriately assessing the health of your heart. Composed of board-certified physicians, certified nurses and specialized technicians, our team works together to provide high quality, comprehensive care, and the most advanced treatments known to medicine.