Patients with Hodgkin’s at Risk for Heart Attack Later in Life

Patients with Hodgkin’s at Risk for Heart Attack Later in Life

According to results from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, patients treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma are at an increased risk for death from a heart attack for 25 years.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in immune cells. It is estimated that 7,350 individuals are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma annually in the United States. Standard treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma often includes chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy. Patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma whose cancer is found in the lymph nodes in the chest may receive radiation to the chest. Researchers speculate that this radiation, as well as chemotherapy agents referred to as anthracyclines, may increase the risk of complications to the heart for patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Researchers from England recently conducted a clinical study to further evaluate the potential risk of heart attack in patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This study included 7,033 patients who were treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma between 1967 and 2000. Their risk of heart attack was compared to that of the general public.

  • Patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma had a significantly higher rate of deaths caused by a heart attack than the general population. This risk persisted for up to 25 years following initial therapy.
  • Risk of death from heart attack was significantly increased among patients who were diagnosed and treated before age 65.
  • The risk of death from heart attack was significantly increased for patients treated with radiation to the chest, treatment with anthracyclines, the chemotherapy agent vincristine, or the chemotherapy regimen consisting of doxorubicin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine.

The researchers concluded that patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma are at an increased risk of death from heart attack for 25 years following initial therapy, particularly among patients treated before the age of 65. Patients should speak with their physician regarding their individual risk of heart attack and possible monitoring for cardiac conditions.

Reference: Swerdlow A, Higgins C, Smith P, et al. Myocardial infarction mortality risk after treatment for Hodgkin disease: a collaborative British cohort study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2007; 99:206-214.

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