African-American women who survive breast cancer are more likely to develop heart failure than other women who have beaten the disease, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 62nd Annual Scientific Session.
All told, these women have a 1.4-fold greater risk for heart failure compared to their white counterparts, though the likelihood of dying after developing heart failure is roughly the same. This trend remained even after taking other potential contributing factors into account, including age, high blood pressure, diabetes and use of chemotherapy agents or cardioprotective medications.
Researchers at Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University at MetroHealth in Cleveland said these findings could have important implications for the nearly 27,000 new cases of breast cancer each year among African-American women who may be at risk for subsequent heart failure.
"In general, African-American women are more susceptible to heart problems as they are disproportionately affected by high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high oxidative stress and even vitamin D deficiency," said Anna Valina-Toth, MD, PhD, a second-year internal medicine resident at Case Western Reserve University at MetroHealth and the study's lead investigator. "Our findings suggest that these women may require closer monitoring to detect the risk of heart failure earlier." This is the first study to establish how often heart failure occurs in a large, representative U.S. sample of breast cancer survivors, according to researchers. Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart can no longer pump enough blood to the body.