Some heart problems or diseases can arise during or long after cancer treatment. These can include:
- Heart valve disease: The valves of the heart may become too narrow, stiff or no longer close property; this can disrupt usual blood flow through the heart and to the body.
- Cardiomyopathy or heart failure: Weakening or stiffening of the heart that affects the ability to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
- Myocarditis: Inflammation of the heart that can be due to infection or certain medications.
- Coronary artery disease: Blockages or scarring in the heart’s arteries. In particular, radiation therapy near the heart can make a buildup of plaque (called atherosclerosis) happen faster than would usually be expected. In some cases, this can
lead to a heart attack.
- Heart rhythm problems: The most common is atrial fibrillation, or AFib, which is also a leading cause of stroke. Tachycardia—when the heart beats too fast—can also occur.
- Thickening or damage to the outside lining of the heart
- Blood clots and stroke: Dangerous blood clots are more common in people with cancer.