A diagnosis of breast cancer is never easy to hear. Thanks to early diagnosis and better treatments, more women are surviving the disease. Dr. Jordan Ray, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, urges all cancer patients to also pay attention to their heart health during and after treatment.
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Cancer treatment, while lifesaving, can affect your heart health.
"Patients are surviving — and for long periods of time. And because of that phenomenon, we're now recognizing that, yes, you've survived your malignancy, but now you have cardiovascular disease as a consequence — either because of lifestyle and other choices or because of the chemotherapies and radiation therapies you received during a malignancy," says Dr. Ray.
Dr. Ray says cancer patients should understand their risk factors for heart disease, which are essentially the same risk factors if you weren't diagnosed with cancer.
If you smoke, stop. Know your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers. Eat a heart-healthy diet and get some exercise.
"There's a lot of evidence now that is suggesting that routine exercise in both malignancy and cardiovascular disease are beneficial," says Dr. Ray.
Sometimes treatment can affect your heart, which may be out of your control. But paying attention to risk factors and talking to your health care provider during treatment are the best ways to increase your heart health.