Treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can be lifesaving when you have cancer. Unfortunately, these treatments can potentially damage your heart. At the Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Cardiovascular Institute, our heart specialists partner with your oncologist to protect your heart while you undergo cancer treatments.

What is cardiotoxicity?

Certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapies, can be toxic to your heart. This treatment side effect is called cardiotoxicity.

Cardiotoxicity symptoms

Your heart may weaken (heart failure) or beat out of rhythm (a condition known as arrhythmia). You also may experience high blood pressure, or hypertension, a condition that increases your risk of stroke and heart attack. You may continue to be at risk for these problems even after you’re finished with cancer treatments.

A few therapies associated with cardiotoxicity include:

  • Adriamycin/Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide, commonly used to treat breast cancers and lymphomas, can cause congestive heart failure.
  • Paclitaxel can cause a slow heart rate or bradycardia.
  • Immunotherapies can cause myocarditis or arrhythmias.
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors can elevate your blood pressure or cause arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation.
  • HER-2 antagonists commonly used in breast cancer treatment can cause congestive heart failure.
  • Radiation therapies, especially if focused on the left chest, can increase future cardiovascular risk through coronary artery disease and valve disease. 

Cardio-oncology services at AHN: Why choose us?

Our goal is to prevent and minimize heart damage while you continue the best treatment for cancer. Cardiologists at the Cardio-Oncology Clinic manage patients before, during, or after cancer therapy, including:

  • Patients with multiple cardiovascular risk factors who have a high risk of heart disease.
  • Patients with existing heart disease.
  • Patients who develop heart disease or heart complications after cancer therapy.

At AHN, you benefit from:

Team-based care and cardiotoxicity treatment

Our heart specialists coordinate care with experts from the