Cardio-Oncology: Radiation and Heart Disease

Understand Your Condition

Other Risk Factors


History of Heart Disease

Patients with underlying medical issues that are risk factors for heart disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, and high cholesterol, have an increased risk of developing heart disease after receiving radiation. Visit CardioSmart's resources to learn more about these health conditions and find out what you can do to improve your heart health.

Studies in cancer patients also suggest that increased physical activity decreases the risk of developing heart disease. Visit CardioSmart's Move More section to learn about exercise and heart disease.

Learn more about common risk factors:


When to Call a Doctor

During radiation treatment, you will see your radiation oncologist at least once a week to watch for any concerning symptoms. Typically, a radiation follow-up will occur between one to three months after completion of your treatment and then may rotate with other health care professionals.

Your radiation oncologist may want to follow up with you every three to six months for the first few years after your treatment ends, or he/she may have you follow up with your other oncologists. The schedule for follow-up appointments depends on your doctor and your type of cancer. Make sure to discuss long-term care before completing your radiation so you understand when you will need to see your doctor.

As always, if you are having severe chest pain at any time, you should seek emergency care and call 911.
< Radiation Risks Exams and Tests >

Published: November 2017
Authors: William Stokes, MD; Priscilla Stumpf, MD; Lavanya Kondapalli, MD; Arthur Liu, MD, PhD
Medical Reviewers: Bonnie Ky, MD, MSCE; Debra Madden, BA; Charles Porter, MD; Karen Lisa Smith, MD, MPH

These modules were developed in collaboration with the Eastern Cooperative Group—American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ECOG-ACRIN) Cardiotoxicity Working Group and Patient Advocacy Group.

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