Cancer Survivors and Heart Disease Risk

It’s no secret that cancer survivors face a long road back to recovery. Making things more challenging is that they may also face a greater risk of cardiovascular disease.

A Wide Range of People

Such was the conclusion of a study issued by a research team from The Ohio State University. For their study, this group examined data from the long-running National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Thanks to this source, the Ohio State researchers were able to review and analyze data from over 15,000 adults between the ages 40 and 79. None of these adults had a history of cancer, though 13% reported having received a cancer diagnosis.

Because of the large size of this group, the study authors were able to gauge cardiovascular disease risk not only based on age, but also on cancer type. All data analyzed was collected between the years 2007 and 2016.

Facts and Figures

After sifting through all of this demographic and medical information, the research team came to some fairly sobering conclusions:

  • Approximately 35% of adults with a history of cancer had an abnormally high risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the following ten year period. For those with no cancer history, this figure stood at 23%.
  • Two groups in particular were found to be at greater risk of cardiovascular disease; people in their sixties, and those who had recovered from testicular, prostate, bladder and kidney cancer.
  • Overall, the Ohio State team determined that, for cancer survivors, the average 10 year risk of cardiovascular disease was roughly 8 percent. In comparison, the report found that the rate for non-cancer subjects was 5 percent.

The study’s lead author, associate professor of epidemiology Ashley Felix, stated that cancer survivors need to be made aware of potential health risks following recovery. “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, so we need to make sure that cancer patients, and their health care team, are aware of this increased risk.”

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