We see many patients who have concerns about or suffer from the short and long-term effects of chemotherapy and/or other aggressive cancer treatments on their overall health. In this article we will focus on patients seeking information and guidelines that may help them maintain a healthy heart during and following cancer treatment.
For many patients, an appointment with a cardiologist is part of their cancer program. If you are a cancer survivor you know that some of your treatments may have damaged or compromised your heart muscle and function. But why does this happen and what kind of treatments or health guidelines can be suggested to help restore heart health in cancer survivors?
A December 2019 study (1) from the University of Queensland in Australia outlined the impact of cancer treatment toxicities on the heart.This is what the researchers wrote:
“A growing number of effective cancer therapies is associated with cardiovascular toxicities including myocardial injury or dysfunction, leading to reduced ventricular function, and increased risk of heart failure.
As the timing of administration of cancer treatment is known, the potential for risk stratification pre-treatment, and appropriate surveillance and monitoring during treatment, and intervention with cardio-protective treatment strategies in patients exhibiting early evidence of cardiovascular toxicity is an appealing clinical strategy.”
Inflammation is Cardiovascular Toxicity
In the above research, doctors agree that it is a good thing to monitor and maintain heart health during cancer treatments. But what are doctors looking for to achieve this goal? What should they be looking for? Something that we look for in the patients we see at the Magaziner Center – Inflammation.
A January 2020 study (2) titled: “Reappraisal of Inflammatory Biomarkers in Heart Failure,” offered these observations to doctors and patients on cardiovascular toxicity from cancer treatment related inflammation.
“Inflammation has been shown to be an important factor in the development and progression of heart failure, regardless of the etiology. There have been many studies that demonstrated roles of inflammatory biomarkers in diagnosis, prognosis of chronic and acute heart failure patients, and also markers of cardiotoxicity from chemotherapy.”
These research suggest that patients undergoing cancer treatments, where there is a risk of heart failure, should have blood work that examines the patient’s levels of:
Galectin-3 – an inflammatory marker whose high elevation levels are common in heart disease and advanced cancer patients.
sST2 – an inflammatory cell which in elevated levels have been implicated in cardiovascular disease
The researchers noted: “Many inflammatory cytokines (immune cells) have been shown to be associated with mortality of both chronic and acute heart failure patients, and some of them are able to track treatment responses, especially sST2 and galectin-3.”
A multi-discipline approach to controlling inflammation and cytotoxicity in cancer treatment
The Magaziner Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Support Program combines conventional, complementary and functional therapies individualized to the needs of each patient. We place great emphasis on an extremely thorough series of lab tests to evaluate the cells of the immune system, inflammatory markers, antioxidant defenses, nutritional status, and overall toxic burden. Most of our patients have already been through the rigors of conventional treatments but have either experienced adverse side effects or unsatisfactory outcomes or both.
Our whole-body approach to cancer includes a variety of therapies, such as nutrition and lifestyle counseling, dietary modifications, supplementation, intravenous vitamin C and other substances, oxidative therapies, immunotherapy, detoxification, lifestyle modifications and exercise therapy, spirituality and mind-body techniques, including stress management and meditation, all with the goal of strengthening the immune system and restoring normal cellular function.
A June 2019 study (3) in the European heart journal gives a summary of the challenges doctors and patients face in protecting the patient from the cancer treatment with am integrative approach..
“Anticancer therapies have extended the lives of millions of patients with malignancies, but for some this benefit is tempered by adverse cardiovascular effects. Cardiotoxicity may occur early or late after treatment initiation or termination. The extent of this cardiotoxicity is variable, depending on the type of drug used, combination with other drugs, mediastinal radiotherapy, the presence of cardiovascular risk factors, and comorbidities
The expected growing volume of patients with cancer at risk of developing/worsening cardiovascular disease, the advent of new technological opportunities to refine diagnosis, and the necessity of early recognition of cancer therapy-related toxicity mandate an integrative multidisciplinary approach and care in a specialized environment.”
At the Magaziner Center for Wellness we are always looking for answers. Long-term survivorship of cancer comes with many challenges.If you would like to explore more information, please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
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1 Habibian M, Lyon AR. Monitoring the heart during cancer therapy. Eur Heart J Suppl. 2019 Dec;21(Suppl M):M44-M49. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/suz230. Epub 2019 Dec 31. PMID: 31908616; PMCID: PMC6937501.
2 Chaikijurajai T, Tang WW. Reappraisal of Inflammatory Biomarkers in Heart Failure. Current Heart Failure Reports. 2020 Jan 8:1-1.
3 Habibian M, Lyon AR. Monitoring the heart during cancer therapy. European Heart Journal Supplements. 2019 Dec 1;21(Supplement_M):M44-9.