Background: Doxorubicin (D) (Adriamycin) is a potent and efficacious chemotherapeutic agent in the treatment of various forms of cancer, but its use has been limited by the development of cardiac toxicity. Historically, D-induced cardiomyopathy (CMP) has been refractory to therapy. We report our experience with this form of CMP at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Methods: Twenty-five patients (20 women, 5 men) with a clinical diagnosis of D-CMP were referred to our program from 1990 to 2003. Patient data were extracted from office charts.
Results: Patients were followed-up for 71 +/- 58 months. On presentation, the average left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) was 26 +/- 9.2%, and 88% of patients were New York Heart Association (NYHA) Class III or IV. Patients were treated with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi; n = 23) or angiotensin-receptor blocker (ARB; n = 2), and 15 were treated with a combination of ACEi and beta-blockers (BB). With medical therapy, LVEF improved significantly (26 +/- 9.2% vs 35 +/- 16.5%, p = 0.022), as did the NYHA class (p < 0.003). All survivors (n = 19) were NYHA Class I or II with medical therapy, with 10 (53%) being Class I. In the group of patients treated with ACEi + BB, there was a statistically significant improvement in LVEF (26 +/- 10.0% vs 37 +/- 17.6%, p = 0.028), which not seen in the ACEi group, with a strong trend toward normalization of LV function (47% vs 10%, p = 0.054).
Conclusions: In the current era of management of heart failure, D-CMP carries a better prognosis than previously described. Early addition of BB may further improve LVEF.