Women's Health

Breast Cancer Treatment Triggers Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Diseases

According to recent research, breast cancer patients aging 45 or above usually develops an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases after getting a sucessful breast cancer treatment. As per the statistics of the World Health Organization (WHO), breast cancer is the most common type of cancer found among women all over the world.

Although it is a widely spread form of cancer, it is also one of the most curable forms of cancer. Asian women have a 78% survival rate while white women have a 91% survival rate of approximately 5 years. The survival rates are increasing these days.

Despite the fact that survival rates are high, these women have to deal with several health issues after their treatment. Some of the side effects include early menopause symptoms, weak bones, and poor cardio health.

According to the recent findings of Botucatu Medical School at Paulista State University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, women aging 45 or above if undergoes any breast cancer treatment, there are increased chances for them to develop heart diseases.

The findings of the research paper “High risk for cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal breast cancer survivors” are published in the journal Menopause of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

The research paper explains as to why breast cancer increases the risk of heart diseases. Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, the senior manager of NAMS and who was not involved in the study said “In addition to toxicity from chemotherapy or radiation therapy, many women go on antiestrogens if they have estrogen-sensitive breast cancer. Loss of estrogen may be associated with a higher risk of heart disease.”

How does the patient get at heightened risk for developing heart disease?

The study was led by the first author Dr. Daniel de Araujo Buttros and his team. They began their study with 288 women aging 45 or above. 96 women of 288 experienced breast cancer yet they went through successful treatment while 192 women were healthy and never had any form of breast cancer. All of these 288 women had already crossed their menopause stage and never experienced an incident of cardiovascular disease.

As per the analysis of the findings, researchers said that women who went through breast cancer treatment had higher chances for developing several health issues than the women who were completely healthy.

These health issues include abdominal obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, and diabetes. Hypertriglyceridemia is a health condition which develops when the person’s body starts having a high level of fatty molecules.

The health conditions mentioned above are the triggering factors of cardiovascular disease. In addition to this, the risk of event-related cardiovascular deaths among women was increased. The rate matched the death rates which health specialists link with the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Dr. Pinkerton says, “About 1 in 8 women (about 12%) [in the United States] will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lives. In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,930 new cases of noninvasive (in situ) breast cancer.”

She further said, “As of January 2019, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.”

As there are many women who go for breast cancer treatment, it is important that they consult their respective health specialists in order to prevent the after side effects.

Heart-healthy lifestyle modifications can decrease both the risk of recurrent breast cancer and the risk of developing heart disease. Thus women should be evaluated for heart disease risk, as they are being treated for breast cancer, and continue to be followed for increased risk after treatment for breast cancer, says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, senior manager of NAMS.

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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