Study Finds Many Breast Cancer Patients Don’t Check Up on Their Hearts

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Heart health is an important concern for older breast cancer patients.

According to the American Heart Association, many breast cancer patients and survivors develop heart problems as a result of cancer treatments. This is much more common in older patients, as 12 percent of people over the age of 65 wind up with heart troubles. A new study conducted by the AHA found that despite the fact that older patients are at risk for having heart conditions, only a third of them saw a cardiologist after experiencing symptoms associated with such issues.

"The majority of older women who develop heart problems after their breast cancer therapy aren't treated by a cardiologist, and they had lower quality of care," Jersey Chen, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and a research scientist and cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Rockville, Maryland, said in a statement. "This suggests that this is an important area for oncologists and cardiologists to collaborate." 

Women who did seek the attention of a doctor were more likely than those who didn't to receive the standard medication for heart problems. The study followed women over the age of 65 who were diagnosed with stage I-III breast cancer between 2000 and 2009, and who were treated with cancer therapies previously associated with heart conditions. Of the women studied, 12 percent developed a heart condition within three years of their cancer diagnoses and only a third sought cardiological medical attention. 

The study highlights the importance of observing heart health during breast cancer treatment. 

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