Strategies to prevent and treat cardiovascular risk in cancer patients

Semin Oncol. 2013 Apr;40(2):186-98. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2013.01.008.


Cardiotoxicity due to cancer treatment is of rising concern, for both cardiologists and oncologists, because it may have a significant impact on cancer patient management and outcome. The most typical manifestation of cardiotoxicity is a hypokinetic cardiomyopathy leading to heart failure. However, the spectrum of the toxic effects that can impair the cardiovascular system may also include acute coronary syndromes, hypertension, arrhythmias, and thromboembolic events. Patients undergoing cancer treatment are more vulnerable to cardiovascular injuries, and their risk of premature cardiovascular disease and death is higher than that of the general population. Prevention of cardiotoxicity remains the most important strategy, and several measures, including cardiac function monitoring, limitation of chemotherapy dose, use of anthracycline analogues and cardioprotectants, and early detection of myocardial cell injury by biomarkers, have been proposed. The response to modern heart failure therapy of cancer treatment-induced cardiomyopathy has never been evaluated in clinical trials, and currently there are no definitive guidelines. Although it is likely that medications used for other forms of cardiomyopathy, particularly angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and β-blockers, may be highly effective, there is still some unjustified concern regarding their use in cancer patients. Specific guidelines that take cardiologic conditions of cancer patients into account are currently lacking and need to be developed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Disease Management
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke Volume / drug effects
  • Troponin / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • Troponin