Re­port: Can­cer may be a hid­den dan­ger to the heart

Daily Trust - - HEALTH -

Peo­ple with can­cer could be suf­fer­ing silent, un­seen heart dam­age due to their ma­lig­nancy, a new study from Aus­tria re­ports.

Re­searchers found that newly di­ag­nosed can­cer pa­tients car­ried high blood lev­els of hor­mones and body chem­i­cals that are nor­mally tell­tale signs of heart dis­ease, the study au­thors said.

Those chem­i­cal in­di­ca­tors for heart dis­ease in­creased with the sever­ity of a per­son’s can­cer, and were strongly as­so­ci­ated with a higher risk of death for these pa­tients, the re­searchers said.

The find­ings sug­gest can­cer could be do­ing dam­age to heart tis­sue, even though the per­son may not be show­ing clin­i­cal ev­i­dence of heart dis­ease, the re­searchers con­cluded.

Dr. Ana Barac, chair­woman of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Car­di­ol­ogy’s Car­dio-On­col­ogy Sec­tion, said the study could be “par­a­digm chang­ing” in the way doc­tors view can­cer and heart dis­ease.

Car­di­ol­o­gists and can­cer doc­tors usu­ally fo­cus solely on the dis­eases of their cho­sen spe­cialty, said Barac, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Car­diac Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Pro­gram at MedS­tar Washington Hos­pi­tal Cen­ter in Washington, D.C.

Those walls have crum­bled slightly in re­cent years, as more has been learned about the toxic ef­fects that chemo­ther­apy for can­cer can have on the heart.

As a re­sult, can­cer doc­tors of­ten will check for chem­i­cal in­di­ca­tors of heart dis­ease be­fore putting a pa­tient on chemo­ther­apy, to make sure the can­cer treat­ment won’t cause po­ten­tially fa­tal heart dis­ease, she said.

But the pa­tients in this study had high lev­els of these in­di­ca­tors be­fore ever re­ceiv­ing chemo­ther­apy, and their lev­els grew worse as their can­cer pro­gressed.

“That’s an eye-open­ing thing,” Barac said. “They’re say­ing there’s a cross-talk be­tween can­cer and car­dio­vas­cu­lar sta­tus. There’s a bi­ol­ogy there we need to work more to un­der­stand.”

The study, pub­lished Sept. 28 in the jour­nal Heart, fo­cused on 555 peo­ple treated for can­cer at Vi­enna Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal in Aus­tria.

Be­fore the pa­tients be­gan any treat­ment that might have dam­aged their heart, re­searchers per­formed a panel of tests to check for signs of heart dis­ease in their blood. The tests looked at blood lev­els of sev­eral heartre­lated hor­mones, some pro­teins as­so­ci­ated with in­flam­ma­tion, and a chem­i­cal called high sen­si­tive tro­ponin that reg­u­lates heart mus­cle con­trac­tions.

Tro­ponin, for ex­am­ple, is used by doc­tors to test whether a per­son has suf­fered an un­de­tected heart at­tack. “It’s some­thing that re­ally only shows up when there’s dam­age to the heart,” said Dr. Ann Bol­ger, a pro­fes­sor and car­di­ol­o­gist with the School of Medicine at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco.

The re­searchers tracked the pa­tients’ progress for an av­er­age of two years. Dur­ing the mon­i­tor­ing pe­riod, about a third of the pa­tients died.

Anal­y­sis of their blood sam­ples showed that lev­els of tro­ponin and all the hor­mones mea­sured rose in tan­dem with can­cer sever­ity, and in some cases were 100 times higher than would be ex­pected, the study au­thors re­ported.

All the in­di­ca­tors were sig­nif­i­cantly as­so­ci­ated with an in­crease in the per­son’s risk of death from any cause, which rose be­tween 21 per­cent and 54 per­cent, depend­ing on the spe­cific chem­i­cal in­di­ca­tor. “That does make you think that find­ing these things is telling us that the heart is im­pacted by the can­cer,” Bol­ger said.

There are sev­eral ways that can­cer could in­di­rectly dam­age the heart with­out spread­ing to it, ex­perts said.

For ex­am­ple, the body might be try­ing to fight off the can­cer by in­creas­ing in­flam­ma­tion. “One of the costs of mount­ing that in­flam­ma­tory re­sponse is that it trig­gers some of the bad things we know it can do in the heart,” Bol­ger said. Can­cer might also di­rectly harm the heart by re­leas­ing toxic chem­i­cals that dam­age the mus­cle, said Dr. Alexan­der Lyon, a se­nior lec­turer in car­di­ol­ogy at Im­pe­rial Col­lege Lon­don and a con­sul­tant car­di­ol­o­gist at the Royal Bromp­ton Hos­pi­tal, also in Lon­don.

“In the same way that the body’s skele­tal mus­cle wastes away with ad­vanced can­cer, per­haps the heart mus­cle is also af­fected,” said Lyon, who wrote an ed­i­to­rial ac­com­pa­ny­ing the ar­ti­cle.

But there could be other ex­pla­na­tions for tell­tale signs of can­cer-re­lated heart dam­age. These hor­mones and body chem­i­cals might be re­leased as part of the cre­ation of tiny new blood ves­sels nec­es­sary for tu­mor growth, for ex­am­ple, said Barac, the Washington, D.C., car­diac ex­pert.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.