Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Childhood cancer survivors have 10 times the risk of having heart failure versus children without cancer, a new study says.
Survivors also are three times more likely to develop another cardiac condition, such as coronary artery disease, arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, pericardial disease or valve abnormalities, according to research published Monday in Circulation.
The significantly higher risk for heart failure or other cardiac conditions is linked to the use of anthracycline chemotherapy medications, researchers say.
Patients treated with the class of chemotherapy drugs are also more likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure or alarmingly high levels of blood fat -- all of which also increase the risk for development of a cardiac condition.
"While anthracycline chemotherapy may induce heart disease, many patients require this cancer treatment to survive," Paul Nathan, a researcher at The Hospital for Sick Children in Canada and study senior author, said in a news release. "Doctors should address heart disease risk factors -- such as diabetes and hypertension -- that can be modified."
The researchers explored this risk analyzing data from the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario Networked Information System registry for nearly 7,300 patients who received a cancer diagnosis at an average age of 7 and received chemotherapy between 1987 and 2010. The cancer survivors were compared to 36,000 youths in the same age group who were cancer-free.
After a 10-year follow-up, close to 3 percent of childhood cancer survivors had at least one cardiac episode versus fewer than 1 percent of the cancer-free group. However, the researchers didn't know diet, smoking, alcohol use and physical activity information of anyone in the study, all of which affect cardiac health risk.
The risk of heart disease also exists for cancer survivors on the other end of the age spectrum. A recent study reported post-menopausal women who survived cancer can experience heart problems up to 30 years after chemotherapy.
"The close connections between lifestyle, metabolic disorders and cardiac disease warrant careful follow-up and monitoring of the childhood cancer survivor population," Nathan said.