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 tight or no longer close properly. This can lead to a leaky valve and 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 infections, autoimmune conditions, or certain medications/toxins.
- Coronary artery disease: Blockages or scarring in the heart’s arteries. In particular, radiation therapy close to the heart can cause buildup of plaques (called atherosclerosis). 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. Other problems include fast heartbeats (called tachycardia) or slow heartbeats (called bradycardia).
- Thickening or damage to the outside lining of the heart.
- Blood clots and stroke: Dangerous blood clots are more common in people with cancer.