Breast Cancer and Heart Disease

Dr. Cindy M. John
OakBend Medical Center

Breast cancer affects 2.1 million people every year, and while early detection and screenings are beneficial in reducing this statistic, patients often fail to appreciate the importance of cardiovascular health in breast cancer prevention.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a sedentary lifestyle, premenopausal obesity, smoking and a western diet significantly increase the risk of both breast cancer and heart disease. That is why it is so important to adopt a healthy lifestyle as early as possible.

What Can You Do?

1. Get up and move. The AHA guidelines recommend a total of 150 minutes of physical activity per week. This can be as easy as taking a 20-30 minute walk every day.

2. Eat healthy. Cut back on fast food and red meats and eat more vege-tables, fruits, poultry, fish and low fat dairy products.

3. Understand your risk factors. It is crucial for every patient to understand how their personal and family history increases their risk of

developing heart disease.

For patients who already have a diagnosis of breast cancer, it is very important to establish care with a cardiologist. Many medical therapies used for the treatment of breast cancer, such as radiation and chemotherapy, can have adverse effects on the heart. This can lead to the development of arrhythmias, blockages in the heart vessels and even heart failure. Early detection of these heart problems, as well as preventative measures with guideline-directed therapy, can help reduce these effects.

If you have questions about your risk for heart disease, or if you are interested in taking steps towards building a heart healthy life, make an appointment to see a cardiologist and build a plan that works for you.