According to the first scientific statement on cardiovascular disease and breast cancer issued by the American Heart Association (AHA), older women who survive cancer have a significantly higher risk of death from heart disease.
This statement cites heart tissue damage, coronary events, like heart attack and stroke, and reduced heart function associated with breast cancer treatment as possible reasons for this increased risk. Overlapping risk factors, such as age, tobacco use, diet, overweight/obesity, and sedentary lifestyle, also contribute, according to the AHA.
Generally, heart disease poses a greater risk to women’s health than breast cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year in the United States, while about 10 times that number die of heart disease. Therefore, according to the AHA, both diseases be considered together prior to and during breast cancer treatment.