WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., April 16, 2013 Many people survive their cancers, but end up dying of cardiovascular disease (CVD). New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center finds that CVD risk factors may be overlooked during survivorship care.
Kathryn E. Weaver, Ph.D., assistant professor of social sciences and health policy at Wake Forest Baptist, and colleagues surveyed survivors of breast, prostate, colorectal and gynecologic cancers in search of answers.
"Increasingly, we are concerned about cardiovascular health in long-term cancer survivors, and we believe this is a high-risk group that needs close attention," lead author Weaver said. "As part of good survivorship health, it's going to be increasingly important for health care providers to assess and address cardiovascular risk in cancer survivors."
For example, Weaver said there is data showing that early stage breast cancer patients are more likely to die of CVD than of breast cancer. There are many reasons why cancer survivors have higher CVD risks, she said, most typically because cancer shares many of the same risk factors such as smoking, low physical activity and obesity. Also, some of the treatments cancer patients undergo may put them at higher risk, she said.
The survey participants were recruited from two cancer registries. A total of 1,582 survivors who were four to 14 years beyond diagnosis were asked in a mail survey to assess CVD risk factors, including smoking, body mass index, physical inactivity, hypertension and diabetes. The researchers also asked the participants whether they had engaged in discussions with health care providers about making lifestyle changes through diet, exercise and quitting smoking.
With the exception of current smoking, CVD risk factors were more common among survivors than the general adult population. Of survivors, 62 percent were overweight or obese, 55 percent reported hypertension, 20.7 percent reported diabet
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Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center