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13 Nov 2017

Cancer patients have a high chance of heart failure within 12 months of diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy treatment, a recent South Australian study has found.

The study of 15,987 patients identified 8,339 who received chemotherapy (817 children and 7,522 adults) subsequently received hospital treatment for heart failure, with 70 per cent of children and 46 per cent of adults having an index admission within 12 months of their cancer diagnosis.

The study, funded by the Heart Foundation, was led by Professor Robyn Clark, who is a senior fellow as well as Flinders University’s Professor of Acute Cardiovascular Care and Research in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

The research examined cardiac toxicity both quantitatively and qualitatively to gain greater understanding through a meta-review of 18 systematic reviews, linked data analysis, risk assessment, process mapping, patient interviews and a Consumer Consensus Statement.

Cardiotoxicity is a condition where there is damage to the heart muscle. It can be a complication from some cancer therapies, and as a result the heart may not be able to pump blood throughout the body as well.

“Despite being aware of this risk for over 30 years, currently there is no high-level evidence in Australia to guide clinician decision-making in the prevention, detection or management of cancer treatment associated cardiotoxicity,” Professor Clark said.

The findings from the study included the revelation that more men than women developed heart failure (48.6 per cent versus 29.5 per cent).  Also, heart failure (HF) patients had increased mortality risk compared with non-HF patients, with 47 per cent occurring within one year and 70 per cent within three years from cancer diagnosis.

The study recommends an increase for patient awareness of the risks and updating clinical guidelines aims to save lives and includes close heart monitoring. When patients receive a cancer diagnosis they should get a Heart Health Check with their GP and to work with their doctors to reduce their risk factors of heart disease.

Imelda Lynch, CEO Heart Foundation SA, believes it is vital to help clinicians identify cancer patients at greater risk of developing cardiac complications and, through early intervention, to improve patient outcomes.

“The impact of this research will be far-reaching and would not be possible without the generous donations the Heart Foundation receives from our wonderful community,” Ms Lynch said.

Professor Clark’s research was published on 17 October in the Cardio-Oncology journal.


Published: 13 Nov 2017