Pregnant Cancer Survivors at Risk of Heart Failure

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Female cancer survivors who were treated with potentially heart-damaging “cardiotoxic” cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy to the thorax, are more likely to develop clinical congestive heart failure during and after pregnancy, reports a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The study looked at 78 female cancer survivors who had 94 pregnancies over a decade. All survivors had been treated for cancer as children, adolescents, or young adults. Of them, 55 had received anthracycline-based chemo, while 23 had received non-anthracycline chemo or radiation only. Of those exposed to anthracyclines, 13 women had a prior history of cardiotoxicity. During pregnancy or soon after delivery, heart failure occurred in 31 percent of women with a history of cardiotoxicity.

Women with no history of cardiotoxicity face a low risk of congestive heart failure during pregnancy, the study showed. But those with that history have a 1 in 3 risk of developing congestive heart failure in pregnancy and should receive close cardiac surveillance, researchers said.

Source: Journal of the American College of Cardiology