Cancer changes your heart health

Cancer changes your heart health

Never mind the drugs, cancer itself seems to increase inflammation in a patient’s heart, while reducing the volume of the left ventricle, meaning less oxygenated blood is pumped around the body.

It is now well-established that cancer becomes more aggressive in patients with lowered oxygen. And other studies have shown how certain chemotherapy drugs, for example anthracyclines, such as doxorubicin or epirubicin, or drugs such as cyclophosphamide, can damage the left ventricle of the heart, causing lowered levels of blood to be pumped. 

Dr James A. White, Professor of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Canada is also a director of the Stephenson Cardiovascular Imaging Center. As an author of the study (1), he was well aware that chemotherapy drugs could cause dysfunction in the left ventricle, more so if radiotherapy to the chest was used. His comment following the research was that, “The baseline assumption that the heart is healthy before giving the chemo may not entirely be true”. He felt that the effects may come about because cancer damages the immune system, causing inflammation.

It is uncertain whether the changes go away once the cancer goes, or whether the heart changes lead to long-term increased risk of heart problems. Certainly, it is already known that people who have had cancer treatment have a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, later in life.


Helpful links

Go to: Hyperbaric oxygen reduces side-effects of chemo and radiotherapy


  1. American Heart Association News April 21, 2021


  Approved by the Medical Board. Click Here 


2021 Research
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