Cancer patients less likely to be prescribed heart medication

Jun 22 2020

A new study, published in the journal JACC: CardioOncology, notes that heart disease has become a leading cause of long-term preventable death in cancer survivors.

Lead author and HMRI affiliated researcher, Associate Professor Doan Ngo says that heart disease is on the rise for cancer patients and survivors, despite this – they’re less likely than people without cancer history to be prescribed medicine to protect their heart.

As treatments improve and rates of cancer survival rise, cardiovascular disease has emerged as a leading cause of preventable death in this population.

“We know that a history of cancer and cancer treatment is associated with an increased rate of cardiovascular risk,” Associate Professor Ngo says. “Despite this, patients have a lower rate of use of cardioprotective medicines such as stains, ACE inhibitors and antiplatelet therapies.”

Examining the records of 320 patients admitted to the cardiology unit at John Hunter Hospital over a six month period from July 2018, the researchers found that of the 69 cancer patients included: 36% of these had established cardiovascular disease before their cancer diagnosis, while 64% developed cardiovascular disease after their cancer diagnosis.

The two groups (cancer history vs. no cancer history) had general similarities in age, body mass index, gender, hypertension and other cardiovascular risk factors.

However, cancer patients had lower rates of preventative treatments such as antiplatelet therapies and statins compared to non-cancer patients.

“This study has identified gaps in the treatment of patients with cancer to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” Associate Professor Ngo says. “There are clear practice and policy gaps regarding the treatment of these patients. We need to develop strategies to improve the use of guideline-directed cardioprotective therapies in cardio-oncology to improve health outcomes for people who have survived cancer.”

Research letter published in JACC: CardioOncology, Volume 1, Issue 2, June 2020