October 7, 2019 - 15:09 AMT
Exercise could help reduce heart damage caused by chemotherapy

Cancer treatments can take a toll on the heart. The agents used to curb cancer cells can damage the heart or peripheral blood vessels. In some cases, they cause problems with clotting or blood lipids.

Almost all chemotherapy drugs have some effect on the cardiovascular system, which isn’t good for health. In many patients receiving anticancer agents, there are noted increasing toxicity observed.

Now, a new study shows that exercise can help protect the heart in people undergoing chemotherapy, improving one’s quality of life. The researchers at the University of Siena in Italy found that patients who receive a tailored exercise regimen or prescription can reduce the risk of heart damage caused by chemotherapy treatment, News Medical reports.

Published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, many people with cancer lack exercise and are less active than their healthy counterparts. Promoting exercise and physical activity is important for patients diagnosed with cancer, especially those receiving anticancer agents.

Usually, patients with cancer experience a plethora of complications, which include cardiovascular disease. This results from cardiotoxicity wherein the cancer drug alters the heart function and structure. In some cases, people have accelerated the development of cardiovascular disease, especially in those with other factors, such as elevated blood pressure and increased blood cholesterol levels.

The researchers also emphasized that cancer and cardiovascular disease share similar risk factors. Hence, it's important for cancer patients to practice a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, and exercising regularly.

The study highlights the importance of implementing an individual exercise plan, which is tailored for each patient. In the exercise regimen, the health care team should take into consideration the patient’s cancer treatment, personal history, personal preferences, and response to exercise.