Perspectives

Effect of chemotherapy on the heart

Perspectives

Effect of chemotherapy on the heart

Duncan Guy

Figures

Abstract

Many chemotherapy agents can have cardiac side effects, most commonly cardiomyopathy, but also hypertension, angina, arrhythmias and pericarditis. Early recognition and treatment can often normalise cardiac function and allow patients to continue necessary chemotherapy.

Key Points

  • Many old and new chemotherapeutic agents can have cardiac effects, including cardiomyopathy, hypertension, angina, arrhythmias and rarely pericarditis.
  • Anthracyclines and trastuzumab are the most likely agents to cause cardiomyopathy; consequent heart failure usually responds quickly to standard treatment.
  • Chemotherapy-induced hypertension needs to be controlled quickly so that patients can continue cancer treatment.
  • Early detection and treatment of cardiac side effects can enable many patients to continue cancer treatment.

    Picture credit: © iStockphoto/Snowleopard1. Models used for illustrative purposes only.