MONDAY, Nov. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Cancer patients have elevated cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality risk, with the highest risk seen in the first year after cancer diagnosis, according to a study published online Nov. 24 in the European Heart Journal.

Kathleen M. Sturgeon, Ph.D., from Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, and colleagues used the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program to compare CVD mortality risk for the U.S. general population with 3,234,256 U.S. cancer survivors. Coded cause of death from CVDs (heart disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, atherosclerosis, and aortic aneurysm/dissection) was used to calculate standardized mortality ratios.

The researchers found that among 28 cancer types, 38.0 and 11.3 percent of patients died from cancer and CVDs, respectively. Overall, 76.3 percent of CVD deaths were due to heart disease. In eight cancer sites, in at least one calendar year, CVD mortality risk surpassed index-cancer mortality risk. In survivors diagnosed at <35 years of age, CVD mortality risk was highest. The highest CVD mortality risk was seen within the first year after cancer diagnosis (standardized mortality ratio, 3.93), and risk remained elevated throughout follow-up compared with the general population.

“The majority of deaths (absolute numbers) from CVD occur in patients diagnosed with breast, prostate, or bladder cancer,” the authors write. “Our observations highlight the need for earlier and more aggressive cardiovascular care in cancer patients which may require enhanced coordinated care between oncologists, cardiologists, and primary care physicians.”

One author disclosed clinical research support from Novocure.

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