Despite the precautions that cardio-oncologists and other specialists take to monitor and protect patients’ heart health during chemotherapy treatments to combat cancer, sometimes heart damage can occur. One of the most common conditions that sometimes arises is congestive heart failure, which is characterized by shortness of breath and swelling.
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Cleveland Clinic Heart & Vascular Institute cardiologist Karen James, MD, explains that in most cases, this condition can be successfully treated with common cardiac drugs called beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors. Some patients may need medical devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, or even surgical procedures. Rarely, some patients may experience progressive heart failure, in which case they may be evaluated for a heart pump or heart transplant if they have been cancer-free for many years.
However, Dr. James says that most patients who develop congestive heart failure can be treated successfully with medication alone.
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