(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Heart disease and breast cancer are two of the most prevalent diseases among women in the United States. Heart disease, the number one killer of women, is responsible for one in three deaths, while a staggering one in eight women develops invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. You might not realize these two major threats to women’s health are connected. The American Heart Association has released the first scientific statement about the two diseases, calling for more research and collaboration between the fields of oncology and cardiology to treat and prevent both diseases.
“Some treatments that a woman may undergo for breast cancer such as chemotherapy and radiation can result in heart disease. Additionally, if a woman has underlying heart disease when she’s diagnosed with breast cancer, that can limit her treatment options,” said Laxmi Mehta, MD, author of the scientific statement and Director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “That’s why these two disease entities have to be merged together to explore new treatments and preventative measures.”
Dr. Mehta hopes the scientific statement will prompt the medical community to work together to more closely screen cancer patients for heart disease and do more to protect their heart health during and after treatment.
The link between breast cancer and heart disease begins with some common risk factors such as obesity and sedentary lifestyle. Women who follow the American Heart Association’s recommendations for a healthy lifestyle are not only more likely to keep their heart healthy, they’re also less likely to develop breast cancer. “Things like staying active, eating a heart healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking are all important to preventing both diseases from developing,” said Dr. Mehta.