Cardio-Oncologists Get to the Heart of the Matter

Why cardiac care is so important during chemotherapy

Some, but not all, treatments for cancer — including chemotherapy — can have an effect on your heart. One of the primary goals of specialists called cardio-oncologists is to prevent heart damage in patients receiving chemotherapy.

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Before patients at Cleveland Clinic begin chemotherapy, they undergo screening studies such as an echocardiogram with strain imaging to assess their heart health. Strain imaging, which evaluates the function of the heart muscle using cardiac ultrasound, is used to identify subtle changes in heart function.

In this video, Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute cardiologist Karen James, MD, explains how this testing can establish a baseline for heart function prior to beginning treatment and also can identify any underlying issues. Patients are monitored on an ongoing basis while receiving chemotherapy, and if any changes are detected in heart function, chemotherapy is sometimes interrupted, the dose is reduced, and/or heart medications are added to preserve function.

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