When patients are first diagnosed with cancer, their main concern is survival. Fortunately, cancer treatments are powerful and often successful, with success varying according to the type of cancer. There are estimated to be over 18 million cancer survivors in the US alone. That number is, thankfully, increasing.
This is great news for cancer patients. The more survivors, the better. As the number of cancer survivors increases, however, the focus on health problems associated with cancer treatment is also increasing. Researchers have found that cancer survivors are two to six times more likely to die of heart disease than people how have never had cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, the following heart problems can develop after cancer treatment:
- Congestive Heart Failure
- Coronary Artery Disease
- Heart Valve Damange
- High Blood Pressure What You Need to Know About Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer (newswise.com)
Given the high level of heart disease risk, it’s important for cancer patients to adopt heart disease prevention strategies as soon after a cancer diagnosis as possible. Naturally, the ability to adopt these strategies will vary from patient to patient. However, the sooner a goal is identified, the more likely it is to be reached.
These strategies include:
- Limiting alcohol intake
- Smoking cessation (if applicable)
- Regular physical activity (150 minutes a week of moderate intensity is recommended.)
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet
If cancer patients already suffer from heart disease, these strategies become more, not less, important.