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Cancer Patients Should Not Neglect Their Hearts

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Cancer Patients Should Not Neglect Their Hearts

The two important life-threatening diseases of our age are cancer and heart diseases. These diseases affect each other.

The two important life-threatening diseases of our age are cancer and heart diseases. These diseases affect each other. For this reason, experts emphasize the importance of onco-cardiology by stating that the heart factor should not be forgotten in cancer treatment. Anadolu Health Center Cardiology Specialist and Head of Oncocardiology Department Assoc. Dr. Ertan Ökmen said, “Collaboration between cardiology and oncology is vital in the successful and, more importantly, safe treatment of cancer patients and in ensuring a long and quality life.”

Heart diseases and cancer are the top two diseases of vital importance in the world and in Turkey. The medical world is carrying out intensive studies in both fields, and a new ray of hope emerges every day. Although cancer treatments affect the patient’s quality of life less than before, the drugs used during treatment can negatively affect healthy organs. Especially the heart is one of the organs most affected by cancer drugs. This is where the concept of oncocardiology emerges.

Cancer drugs can cause heart failure and hypertension.

In cancer treatment, other organs can also be affected by this process, and not only oncologists but also specialists from other branches are needed. Among the specialties that need support, cardiology comes first. Because during the treatment process, heart problems caused by chemotherapy drugs may occur. Anadolu Health Center Cardiology Specialist and Head of the Oncocardiology Department Assoc. Prof. stated that treatment-related heart problems are not seen in every cancer patient, but there are some triggering factors that cause them to occur. Dr. Ertan Ökmen: “Treatment-related heart problems, which we call cardiotoxicity, are not seen in every patient. The type of chemotherapy drug used is the most important risk factor. The dose of the drug, the way it is administered, and whether or not it has received prior radiotherapy are also among the factors related to the treatment. “Some chemotherapy drugs can cause heart failure in one in four patients, and some drugs can cause hypertension in one in two patients,” he said.

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Those with heart disease should be even more careful

During cancer treatment, the most common treatment-related heart problems are; These are listed as heart failure, hypertension, rhythm disorders, heart attacks, and pericardial inflammation. These diseases can occur both during treatment and in the late stages, years later. The most common problem experienced by patients during the treatment process is shortness of breath. Shortness of breath, seen in the majority of cancer patients, may be caused by a heart disease. Especially if the patient begins to experience shortness of breath with treatment, even though he has not had such a problem before, it is necessary to investigate whether it is heart-related. In addition to shortness of breath; If palpitations, weakness, breathlessness while walking or climbing stairs, waking up at night with a feeling of suffocation, and the desire to sleep with a high pillow are observed, heart failure is suspected. If heart failure is present and severe, the option of discontinuing treatment and treating the heart first is considered.

The heart should also be monitored after treatment

Some heart diseases may occur after many years due to the treatment process. Assoc. Dr. Ertan Ökmen states that late-stage heart failure after treatment can be symptomatic (giving signs) or asymptomatic (not giving signs) and adds: “Unfortunately, in most patients, heart failure does not cause symptoms in the early stages, but it only gives signs when it reaches an advanced stage. This situation causes a delay in treatment. For this reason, patients should have their check-ups before they have any complaints and before the symptoms of heart failure appear. As with early cancer diagnosis, if heart problems are detected in time, their treatment becomes much easier and cancer treatment can be continued without interruption. Not every patient receiving chemotherapy has heart problems. While negative effects on the heart may occur during treatment, according to information obtained from the follow-up of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy, especially in childhood, heart failure due to these drugs may occur in the late period, even after many years, and coronary artery disease may occur at earlier ages than expected.”

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