Cutting Chemo Heart Risks for Breast Cancer Patients

From - March 12, 2018

Cutting Chemo Heart Risks for Breast Cancer Patients

MONDAY, March 12, 2018 -- Two classes of blood pressure drugs show promise in preventing heart complications caused by chemotherapy for breast cancer, researchers report.

One in four women who receives the chemo drug Herceptin develops potentially dangerous heart problems. However, the drug is highly effective at treating an aggressive form of breast cancer called HER2-positive, the scientists added.

"We do not want to avoid this exceptionally effective treatment just because it might cause damage to the heart," said study chair Dr. Maya Guglin, of the University of Kentucky's Heart and Vascular Institute.

The American Heart Association has warned doctors and patients to consider the heart risks of Herceptin when developing a treatment plan for HER2-positive breast cancer.

Guglin and colleagues found that two classes of drugs -- ACE inhibitors and beta blockers -- did not help protect the hearts of patients who received Herceptin alone.

But they did protect the hearts of patients who also received another chemotherapy drug called doxorubicin before they received Herceptin.

In those patients, heart problems occurred in 37 percent of patients who received ACE inhibitors and 31 percent of those who received beta blockers. That compared with 47 percent of patients who did not receive either type of drug.

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