Heart Attacks and Breast Cancer Risk

Breast cancer is often a harrowing ordeal for women who develop it. Even after the cancer goes into remission, breast cancer survivors might find themselves dealing with serious cardiovascular issues. According to a recent report, such heart problems may in turn cause breast cancer to spread at a faster rate.

An Unwelcome Return

This particular study was published in the journal Nature Medicine, and based its findings on two previous breast cancer studies. The first documented the health of approximately 1,700 women over an average of a dozen years. During this time frame, some participants developed cardiovascular disease. For their study, the authors devoted their attention to women who had not developed cardiovascular disease at the time of their cancer diagnosis.

Upon conducting this analysis, the researchers found a correlation between post-cancer diagnosis heart issues and cancer recurrence. Specifically, those who experienced heart attack, heart failure, coronary artery disease and other heart-related issues were 59% more at risk of breast cancer recurrence. Furthermore, the mortality risk among these women was 60% higher compared to subjects with no history of significant heart trouble.

Spreading Fast

The second study involved laboratory mice with breast cancer. Some of these rodents underwent a surgical procedure designed to induce a heart attack; for the remaining mice, the procedure was altered so as not to cause any heart problems.

More than two weeks later, the study authors reviewed both groups of mice. They found that, compared to the opposing group, the group who suffered heart attacks had tumors that were twice as large in size. Likewise, the amount of cancer that had found its way to the lungs was much larger in the heart attack group.

While the authors of the Nature Medicine study acknowledge that the study is concerning, they also note that certain precautions can reduce cardiovascular disease risk among breast cancer survivors. These precautions include leading an active lifestyle, maintaining a healthy diet and keeping their cholesterol and blood pressure levels in check.

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