Up to 48% of breast cancer patients will continue to struggle with heart disease as a result of chemotherapy.
A research team from the University of South Australia is exploring ways to reduce the irreversible damage associated with cardiotoxic chemotherapy to protect the heart from damage.
A study by Ph.D. from UniSA James Murray with Dr. Rebecca Perry from UniSA, Professor Eva Bezak and Dr. Hunter Bennett evaluates the impact of exercise on preventing damage and heart dysfunction while reducing other well-known effects.
In Australia, more than 17,000 Australian women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
There are more than 2.3 million women and 685,000 deaths worldwide.
It is estimated that the risk of death from breast cancer in women under 85 is 52 (1.9%).
Murray says the study could change the fundamental model of care for breast cancer patients.
“Chemotherapy for breast cancer has been linked to many side effects, including fatigue, nausea, pain, depression and anxiety,” says Murray.
“But it is known to increase the risk of heart disease, leading to heart failure, heart muscle damage and arrhythmias, which significantly affects functional ability and quality of life.
“It is clear that patients with chemotherapy often have little energy and desire to play sports. In fact, our study already shows that many women undergoing chemotherapy are afraid to exercise because they worry that it will further strain their bodies when they are already weakened by chemotherapy.
“However, because exercise is known to improve many of the side effects of chemotherapy – as well as improve overall health – it is clear that they can also be a protective factor for the heart. And we want to see how healthy interventions can prevent the negative effects of chemotherapy.
Murray says in this latest study, his team explores how structured exercise can improve heart function in women undergoing chemotherapy to treat breast cancer.
“Thus, instead of using lifelong medical interventions to combat complications associated with chemotherapy, we hope that exercise can be a preventative intervention for cardiotoxic chemotherapy with the added bonus of improving traditional cancer treatment side effects such as fatigue.”
The current exercise study is still looking for participants.
Go to the page for more information www.unisa.edu.au/research/research-volunteers/cardiovascular-health-and-function-research-study
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