We’re fortunate to live during a time when cancer treatments are more effective and helping people to live longer than ever before. However, the treatments can also cause some difficult side effects. Most people are aware that cancer treatment can cause hair loss, nausea, and vomiting. What you may not know is that cancer treatment also increases the risk of having certain kinds of heart problems.
Patients Often Unaware of Heart Risks
Up to one quarter of people who undergo chemotherapy or radiation develop heart failure because of the treatment. Yet, a recent study shows that many people aren’t provided with information or treatment that can minimize the problem.
In a study involving the medical records of 46 participants, researchers found that only 11 percent of the patients were not referred to a cardiologist before they began chemotherapy treatment. And, only 48 percent of patients were referred to a heart failure clinic upon completion of their treatment. Upon interviewing cancer patients, not all of whom were part of the group of 46 participants, researchers learned that none of them knew about their increased risks for heart problems. They also didn’t know for sure what a balanced meal was comprised of.
What is Cardiotoxicity?
Doctors refer to the heart problems caused by chemotherapy treatment as cardiotoxicity. Cardiotoxicity can take all kinds of forms, including:
• Heart valve problems.
• Coronary artery disease.
• Congestive heart failure.
Some signs that your aging relative may be experiencing heart problems are:
• Pain or an uncomfortable feeling in the chest.
• Trouble breathing.
• Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
• Swelling in the hands or feet.
What Causes Cardiotoxicity?
Not all types of cancer treatment increase the chances of having heart problems. Some treatments that can raise the risk are:
• Chemotherapy that uses certain kinds of drugs.
• Radiation therapy on the chest.
• Certain kinds of targeted therapy.
To find out if your aging relative is at a greater risk for heart problems, talk to their health care team about the kind of treatment they are receiving. Ask how it could affect their heart and about other problems you should watch for. If you’re concerned about the increased risk, ask if there are other kinds of treatments that could reduce the risk and still be effective at fighting the cancer.
Getting through cancer treatment can be difficult. Home care can assist the older adult during their treatment and recovery. A home care provider can drive the senior to and from treatment appointments. They can sit with them through the treatment and afterward to help them with side effects. Home care providers can do things like prepare meals and snacks that are easy for the senior to digest, help them get to the bathroom, and allow the older adult to rest while the provider cleans, answers the phone, and handles other household tasks.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Home Care in Northbrook, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.
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