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Cancer Patients Less Likely to Be Prescribed Heart Meds: Study

TUESDAY, June 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Heart disease is on the rise among cancer patients and survivors, but they're less likely than people without cancer to be prescribed medicines to protect their heart, a new study finds.

Heart disease has become a leading cause of long-term preventable death in cancer survivors, according to the study published June 16 as a research letter in the journal JACC: CardioOncology.

"A history of cancer and cancer treatment are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and is an issue of substantial public health importance," said senior author Doan Ngo, an associate professor of biomedical sciences and pharmacy at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

"It is clear there are practice and policy gaps regarding the treatment of these patients and it is vital to develop strategies to improve guideline-directed cardioprotective therapies in cardio-oncology," she said in a journal news release.

Ngo and her team analyzed records of 320 patients admitted to an Australian hospital's cardiology unit between July 2018 and January 2019.

Of 69 patients with a history of cancer, 36% had heart disease before their cancer diagnosis, the study found. Sixty-four percent developed heart disease after their cancer diagnosis.

There were no significant differences between the cancer and non-cancer patients in age, body fat, gender, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation. Both groups had similar heart disease risk factors.

The study found that cancer patients were less likely than others to have been prescribed and using heart disease prevention medications such as antiplatelets and cholesterol-lowering statins. They were also more likely to have been hospitalized for heart failure.

While the study was limited because participants all came from one hospital, researchers said the results suggest that "the management of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in patients with cancer is suboptimal compared to those without a history of cancer."

More information

The American Society of Clinical Oncology offers resources for cancer survivors.

SOURCE: JACC: CardioOncology, news release, June 16, 2020

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