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Cardio-oncology helping patients suffering heart disease and cancer simultaneously

Patients suffering from cancer and heart disease finding new treatment is helping.
Patients suffering from cancer and heart disease finding new treatment is helping.

According to the American Heart Association over 30 million Americans are dealing with various forms of heart disease and some also face another health challenge at the same time: a diagnosis of cancer.

Many of these patients benefit from a medical specialty called cardio-oncology.

74-year-old Mavis Swann never had any health issues until December 2019, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

But before treating her cancer, doctors wanted to assess the health of her heart.

“The treatment for my specific form of cancer was to take this drug called her pet in and hercepton it works negatively on your heart,” Swann said.

A team at the Cleveland Clinic Weston found Swann’s heart was so weak she needed a pacemaker before she could begin her cancer treatment.

“And therefore we can have a win-win by completion of cancer treatment, which is lifesaving, but without the risk of heart damage,” said Dr. Diego Sadler, a cardio-oncology specialist.

Sadler said some patients like Swann may come before cancer treatment, while others are seen during or after treatment if problems develop as a result of exposure to chemotherapy and radiation.

“Through methodical monitoring them and working together with the cardiologists and oncologists through these treatments we have the ability to miniseries that risk,” he said.

The pacemaker actually protected Swann from more than one potentially deadly episode, and allowed her to proceed with lifesaving breast cancer therapy.

“Today I’m fine. I just came back from a walk with my neighbor and I’m fine today,” she said.

Those at high risk for adverse heart reactions during cancer treatment include people with high blood pressure, diabetes and those who smoke.


About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.