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Does Chemotherapy Cause Heart Attack?

What is cancer?

The perception of this disease is changing from decades. Previously it was considered to be a communicable disease, caused by viruses. Later, due to the involvement of scientists, we were known not to be communicable. It is caused because of normal cell machinery going haywire; sounds complicated, well it is. Cancer is when the normal body cell goes through a roller coaster ride adapting to a new environment. It isn’t good anyway because in both cases we are broke!

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Is the disease curable?

Due to researches in oncology, we were able to find a certain cure to this disease. The question is why the disease hasn’t been cured fully? Are the scientists bored with their interests? The answer to this is no. The transformed cell is way too smart to be cured. Hence, we are facing difficulties to identify a permanent cure for this. Cancer itself is a disease with many allies to rely upon it is the coordination of different groups of cells.



How does our body help us to fight cancer?

Since cancer comprises various groups of cells; it makes the body’s defence system evade every cell. But if our system is strong it can retaliate at an earlier stage and helps to survive longer. Our immune cells consist of NK cells, T cells, B cells, Macrophages all of which clears the system from unwanted invaders called antigens. The immune cells keep an eye on our system but if the machinery goes haywire cancer cells use this opportunity to grow further. This leaves the system downregulated affecting the overall health of an individual.

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How Exactly Chemotherapy Works?

There are various therapies to treat cancer out of which chemotherapy is prescribed. The chemotherapeutic agents like 5FU target the cell nucleus hampering with the DNA. The interesting part is where the unaffected cells do have DNA repair machinery but, the cancer cell doesn’t. This means chemotherapy is the bombardment of agents to damage the cells. Hence it affects both normal and cancer cells. But the normal cell can repair itself in some time. While cancer permanently damages the system. Cancer can be treated with medicine, but it has its side-effects.

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Do we have any alternate options?

The obvious answer is yes! There are other options to treat this disease and chemotherapy is one of them. The recent advancements in this field have led to the discovery of many new therapeutic options. Such as radiotherapy, radiotherapy conjugated with the cocktail of chemotherapy drugs.

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What is immunotherapy?

Also, recent studies show that the most famous immunotherapy, CAR-T cell therapy has won the Nobel prize. It’s effective against treating cancer. But it depends on the type of cancer and the origin of the tissue. In some cancers like Breast cancer, there are several hormonal therapies along with the surgery (for eg- Mastectomy). These are the possible potential treatments to cure the disease. But cancer is a group of cells having the same or different origin. So leaving one cell in the body can lead to the recurrence of the disease.

Does chemotherapy cause a heart attack?

It affects the heart muscle, but it doesn’t cause a heart attack. Heart damage (cardiotoxicity) from chemotherapy or radiation therapy is common. Between 5% to 15% of cancer patients develop full-blown heart failure after surviving cancer. This number doesn’t account for many others who develop high blood pressure or atrial fibrillation. Atrial Fibrillation increases the risk of stroke as a result of cancer treatment.

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Some chemotherapies directly target heart muscle tweaking and releasing free radicals. These free radicals weaken the heart muscle causing cardiomyopathy (enlargement of the heart) or congestive heart failure. However, chemotherapeutic agents don’t affect the blood flow to the arteries. So, it doesn’t cause a heart attack in the cancer survivors. The radiation therapy directed towards the heart area causes the weakening of the muscle and end up affecting it.

Conclusion

If someone is diagnosed with cancer, they may approach their oncologists and get their specific treatment started. However, if someone had undergone chemotherapy and then they face heart problems, they should be referred to a specific cardiologist and get their advice. However, implanting a pacemaker has shown good results in the candidates who have been facing heart problems after fighting off the disease.

A takeaway note, once a person is undergoing treatment, their entire body becomes weak and unable to fight off the disease. Hence, let’s just be full of energy and fight off the disease and help someone to fight it off, and come out of it with flying colours!

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