Effects of ionizing radiation on the heart

Mutat Res Rev Mutat Res. 2016 Oct-Dec;770(Pt B):319-327. doi: 10.1016/j.mrrev.2016.07.003. Epub 2016 Jul 10.


This article provides an overview of studies addressing effects of ionizing radiation on the heart. Clinical studies have identified early and late manifestations of radiation-induced heart disease, a side effect of radiation therapy to tumors in the chest when all or part of the heart is situated in the radiation field. Studies in preclinical animal models have contributed to our understanding of the mechanisms by which radiation may injure the heart. More recent observations in human subjects suggest that ionizing radiation may have cardiovascular effects at lower doses than was previously thought. This has led to examinations of low-dose photons and low-dose charged particle irradiation in animal models. Lastly, studies have started to identify non-invasive methods for detection of cardiac radiation injury and interventions that may prevent or mitigate these adverse effects. Altogether, this ongoing research should increase our knowledge of biological mechanisms of cardiovascular radiation injury, identify non-invasive biomarkers for early detection, and potential interventions that may prevent or mitigate these adverse effects.

Keywords: Heart; Intervention; Low-dose radiation; Radiation therapy; Radiation-induced heart disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cosmic Radiation
  • Heart / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Models, Animal
  • Radiation, Ionizing*