A study conducted by researchers at the Ohio State University has found that about 35 percent of Americans with a cancer history had an elevated risk of suffering heart disease in the next decade.
Published in the journal Plos One, the study is based on a risk calculator estimating a person’s 10-year chances of developing heart disease or a stroke. It drew data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The researchers said the national sample, which was obtained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — from those surveyed between 2007 to 2016 — was to give a picture of the elevated risk for cancer survivors in the US.
They examined 15,095 adults (40 to 79 years) with no heart disease history, but with 13 percent having had cancer.
When the study compared individual cardiovascular disease risk factors by cancer status, they found that older age, higher systolic blood pressure, and a personal history of diabetes were more common in cancer survivors.
Based on the risk calculator, the average estimated 10-year risk for a cancer survivor was also found to have been about eight percent, compared to the five percent reported among those who did not have a history of cancer.
Speaking on the findings, Xiaochen Zhang, a Ph.D. candidate at the Ohio State’s College of Public Health, said: “We know that obesity, cancer, and cardiovascular disease share some common risk factors.
“…In addition to those shared risk factors, cancer patients also receive treatments including radiation and chemotherapy that can affect their cardiovascular health – we call that cardiotoxicity.”
Ashley Felix, an associate professor of epidemiology at Ohio State who is also a senior author of the study, added: “The good news is that we’re getting really good at treating cancer and we have more survivors.
“But we need to start thinking more carefully about the non-cancer risks following a diagnosis, one of which is cardiovascular disease. We don’t want people to survive cancer only to die prematurely of heart disease or stroke.
“In addition to monitoring cancer survivors for cardiovascular disease and making them aware of the elevated risk, health care providers have the opportunity to guide patients toward interventions that can lower their risk.”
It is estimated that 17 million people live with a cancer diagnosis in the US, a figure expected to grow to 26 million by 2040.
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