Cardio-Oncology Helps Cancer Patients, Survivors Facing Heart Health Issues

The term“cardio-oncology” has grown in prominence as healthcare professionalsteam up to help cancer patients at higher risk of developing heart disease orrelated conditions.

Theincreasing success of cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiationtherapies, has produced an unfortunate flip-side: cancer survivors may developlater side effects, such as arrhythmias, coronary artery disease, heart diseaseand heart failure. As a result, healthcare providers are creatingcardio-oncology teams.

In the COVID-19 era, the Cardio-Oncology Program, a collaboration between Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute and Miami Cancer Institute, is even more essential in protecting vulnerable patients from additional complications. The program brings together experts in cardiology and oncology who provide cancer patients with care focused on cardiovascular health during and after cancer treatment. The program is led by Alvaro Gomez, M.D., interventional cardiologist; Socrates Kakoulides, M.D., medical director of Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute’s Ambulatory Diagnostic Center; and Paula Montana De La Cadena, M.D., cardiologist.

“Afterbeing referred to the Cardio-Onoclogy Program, the patient meets with acardiologist for a comprehensive consultation and evaluation,” explainsDr. Montana. “The evaluation may include imaging to further define apatient’s cardiovascular condition. Then the cardio-oncology team develops anindividualized treatment plan.”

The programgives patients with cancer-related heart issues access to “expertsthroughout the fields of cardiovascular medicine, cardiac surgery, cardiacimaging, vascular surgery, oncology and other specialties,” adds Dr.Montana.

Whichpatients are candidates for the Cardio-Oncology Program?

  • Patientswith existing cardiovascular issues who have newly diagnosed cancer and need tobe guided through medical and surgical treatments for their cancer.
  • Patientswho have cardiac side effects from traditional cancer therapies andmedications.
  • Cancersurvivors who need screening and treatment for cardiovascular issues that mayor may not be related to their treatment.

According to a new study of women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2015, most of the women who survived for 10 years or longer after their breast cancer diagnosis died from non-cancer causes, especially heart disease. Researchers analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER).

“Studies have confirmed the importance of providing a cardio-oncology program,” says Dr. Gomez. “Now that more and more people are beating cancer for longer periods of time, we need to make sure they don’t have to fight other potentially fatal health issues, such as heart disease and related conditions.”

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