I am
Show me:
Show me:
Cancer patients missing out on vital heart care
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Cancer patients missing out on vital heart care

Media Release - 19 June 2020

A new Australian study has found that heart patients with a history of cancer are less likely to receive the heart medications they need.

The study found that the management of risk factors for heart disease and stroke among cancer patients and survivors “was suboptimal compared to those without a history of cancer”.

Certain chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other cancer treatments are known to damage heart muscles, valves and blood vessels, and other organs. This study focused on how well cancer survivors’ risk factors for heart disease were being managed.

The study, co-authored by University of Newcastle researchers, Associate Professor Aaron Sverdlov, and Professor Doan Ngo, was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Professor Sverdlov is funded under a Heart Foundation Future Fellowship research grant while Professor Ngo is funded under a NSW Health Early-Mid Career Researcher Fellowship.

The researchers investigated the care of 320 patients who were admitted to the cardiology unit at John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle between July 2018 and January 2019. They were being treated for heart attacks, blocked arteries, atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), heart failure and other heart conditions.

Sixty-nine had a current or prior history of cancer and 251 had no history of cancer. Both groups had similar risk factors for heart disease and stroke, but the researchers found a discrepancy in who was taking medications to treat their risk factors.

The researchers found:

  • 58 percent of cancer patients and survivors were taking anti-platelet medications to prevent blood clots compared to 75.3 percent for the cancer-free group.
  • 63.3 percent of cancer survivors in this group were taking statins, which are usually used to treat high cholesterol or unstable plaque in the arteries, compared to 79.7 percent for those with no cancer history.

Cancer patients were also slightly less likely to be prescribed ACE inhibitors (angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors) and ARBs (angiotensin-receptor blockers) used to treat high blood pressure and for cardio protection, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Professor Sverdlov said previous studies suggested that cancer patients were also less likely to have bypass surgery to restore blood to blocked coronary arteries.

“We found that cardioprotective therapies are under-used in cancer patients and survivors compared to patients without a history of cancer, despite having similar risk factors for heart attack or stroke,” he said.
“The findings highlight practice and policy gaps and the need for guidelines for treating cancer patients who have signs of cardiac abnormalities.”

Professor Ngo said previous studies found that cancer patients were up to 15 times1 more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people with no history of cancer but this public health issue was not being widely addressed

The researchers recommended a multi-disciplinary approach for treating cancer patients.

The Heart Foundation’s General Manager of Heart Health and Research, Bill Stavreski, said the study provided new evidence about an emerging area of research, known as cardio-oncology.

“Australia has one of the highest cancer survival rates in the world. The immediate focus is on surviving the cancer, but the long-term health of survivors is also important.

“I encourage cancer survivors to talk to their doctor about their risk personal risk factors for heart attack and stroke, when they are ready to do that.” 

Media enquiries

Suzanne McKenzie, Senior Media Adviser
M: 0434 691 461 E: Suzanne.mckenzie@heartfoundation.org.au


Resources
1.Oeffinger KC, Mertens AC, Sklar CA et al. Chronic health conditions in adult survivors of childhood cancer. N Engl J Med 2006;355:1572-82.

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join the Heart Foundation community. Together, we can make a real difference for Australian hearts. ...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Help make heart disease history!

Help make heart disease history!

Help make heart disease history!

48 Australians die from heart disease every day. You can help save lives....

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Clinical Guidelines

Full list of clinical guidlines and references for CVD, heart failure, ACS, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, SCAD and RHD...

Baking recipes

Baking recipes

Baking recipes

Find heart healthy baking recipes ...

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

End of Financial Year Tax Receipt

Looking to claim your donations in your tax return this financial year?...

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

Pilbara Aboriginal Heart Health Program

The program works with local communities to improve heart healthcare in Pilbara communities...

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Support after a heart attack

Many different thoughts may go through your head after a heart attack and you may be presented with complicated medical info. Know where to get support. ...

Key Statistics: Risk factors for heart disease

Key Statistics: Risk factors for heart disease

Order patient resources online

Order patient resources online

Search and order from our range of printed patient resources online. ...

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

Healthy Food Access Tasmania

We've been working on several projects with local governments across Tasmania, big and small....

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

What is cardiac rehab?

Cardiac rehab is proven to keep you out of hospital and reduce your risk of death from heart conditions....

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

You may be surprised to know that on average, adults sit for nine hours a day....

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

Cardiac arrest at 26: adjusting to a new ‘normal’

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

Let’s dive into nine common food and health myths and the facts behind them....

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Donate to the Heart Foundation

Every dollar that you donate will help fund research, support and programs that help save lives....

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

Stay informed about COVID-19

If you have heart disease, you are more vulnerable to severe complications....

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

The Blueprint for an active Australia provides evidence-based actions to help address physical inactivity....

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track. ...

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

How to boost your fruit and vegetable intake to help protect your heart. ...

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

Time to book a Heart Health Check?

If you're 45 and over, or 30 and over if you're of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, you should book your Heart Health Check today...

Asian recipes

Asian recipes

Asian recipes

Find heart healthy Asian recipes....

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Improving the design of our cities, towns, streets and buildings makes it easier for Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....