Breast Cancer Treatment Takes Toll on Heart

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The researchers cautioned that few of the women in the study were under 40, so the results may not apply directly to that age group.

In an accompanying editorial in the journal, Dr. Javid Moslehi of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston commented that the findings may be the "tip of the iceberg."

"In addition to ischemic cardiac disease," he wrote, "radiation therapy has been associated with other cardiac conditions, including pericardial disease, peripheral vascular disease, cardiomyopathy, valvular dysfunction, and arrhythmias.

Those diseases were not part of the study, nor were those associated with some forms of chemotherapy, he noted.

One implication for practice, he argued, is that the time to look at cardiovascular issues is at the time of breast cancer diagnosis and before treatment starts.

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