A First for Minnesota
University of Minnesota cardiologists and oncologists are working together to minimize heart disease in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Helping cancer patients
minimize or prevent their risk
of developing heart disease
During and after cancer treatment, some oncology patients are also challenged by heart problems, including hypertension, heart failure, arrhythmias and valve disorders. It is acknowledged that several chemotherapy agents, especially when combined with radiation therapy, lead to cardiomyopathy.
Chemotherapy treatments target and kill specific cancer cells, but at the same time some of these life-saving agents can also damage heart muscle. The anthracycline class of chemotherapy agents (daunorubicin,adriamycin, doxorubicin, mitoxantrone) can lead to irreversible loss of heart function and congestive heart failure in as many as 15 percent of patients. Other agents such as the HER2 blocking drugs used in some breast cancer patients can also lead to less frequent and milder forms of heart disease.
As one of the first cardio-oncology programs in the Midwest, cardiologists at the University of Minnesota have been at the forefront of breakthroughs in cardiovascular care of cancer patients. Led by Suma Konety, M.D., and Gary Francis, M.D., the team uses the latest advanced imaging technology and a multidisciplinary team approach that includes complementary medicine, genetics, rehabilitation, and nutrition services. Preventive measures, early detection of heart damage, and management of cardiac complications associated with chemotherapy have demonstrated successful outcomes for cancer patients.