An alarming health risk for cancer patients

An alarming health risk for cancer patients

Did you know there will be an estimated 19 million cancer survivors in the U.S. by 2024 because of the continued improvements in early cancer diagnosis and anti-cancer therapies? While this is great news for the cancer community and offers renewed hope for cancer patients, it also comes with an increased number of cardiovascular complications. That’s where cardio-oncology comes in.

What is cardio-oncology?

Cardio-oncology focuses on these increased rates of complications for patients with or without heart conditions because of these advances in cancer treatment that have led to improved survival rates. Some of the complications are a result of cardiotoxicity, which refers to the direct effect of the cancer treatment on heart function and structure. Cancer patients with pre-existing cardiovascular issues face the greatest risk from oncology-related treatments, as their existing conditions may be accelerated by toxicity from lifesaving cancer treatments. Although the risk of cardiovascular issues as the results of cancer treatments is a known problem, this field, which focuses specifically on how to treat and prevent them, is new.

Ongoing research shows that improved knowledge and proactive management of cardiovascular concerns during and after the course of cancer treatment can lead to positive outcomes, such as reduced complications and higher quality of life among cancer survivors. These discoveries lead to formation of this new medical specialty, cardio-oncology, which focuses on helping patients at risk for cardiovascular effects of cancer treatments.

The heart of this specialty is a close partnership between oncologists, hematologists, and cardiologists working as a team to maintain and improve health outcomes of their patients during and after cancer treatments. Using the latest scientific and symptom management discoveries, this partnership helps early identification of at-risk patients, proactive management of cardiovascular side effects, and improved quality of life among cardio-oncology patients.

Advocate Health Care is investing in the new wave of innovation in medicine by opening a cardio-oncology clinic.

What signs should you be aware of if you have cancer?

  • If you are a cancer patient with pre-existing heart disease or heart failure, hypertension, diabetes, prior chemotherapy, underwent a radiation therapy to the chest, or a childhood cancer survivor, talk to your cancer specialist or primary care physician about being seen at a cardio-oncology clinic.
  • If during the course of cancer treatment, you experience such symptoms as trouble breathing, shortness of breath, swelling in abdomen, legs, or feet, racing heartbeat, increased weakness or tiredness, dizziness, lightheadedness or chest pain, ask your doctor about cardio-oncology consultation.

This new specialty is here to help cancer patients survive, minimize side effects from necessary treatments and live longer, happier lives post-treatment, while their heart health is managed by a specialist trained to anticipate their health and well-being needs.

A cancer patient today does not want to become a heart failure patient tomorrow!

Dr. Marianna Krive is a cardiologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital with a special interest in cardio-oncology. Her passion is helping patients during and after cancer treatments to proactively identify and treat unwelcome side effects, while giving her patients the kind of personal attention they need to feel at ease in receiving the best cardiovascular care during some of the most difficult periods of their lives.

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Dr. Marianna Krive

Dr. Marianna Krive is a cardiologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital with a special interest in cardio-oncology. Her passion is helping patients during and after cancer treatments to proactively identify and treat unwelcome side effects, while giving her patients the kind of personal attention they need to feel at ease in receiving the best cardiovascular care during some of the most difficult periods of their lives.