Study: Breast Cancer Drug Linked to Heart Problems

Study: Breast Cancer Drug Linked to Heart ProblemsIn a new study published in the journal Annals of Oncology, Herceptin, a drug used to control breast cancer, was found to be linked to an increased risk of heart problems in older patients, namely those who have diabetes or a history of heart disease, HealthDay reports.

According to the news source, a team of researchers studied the medical records of 45 elderly women, ages 70 to 92, who had been prescribed Herceptin for 6 years, and found that roughly 25 percent of the patients developed heart problems because of the drug.

The same study was conducted on younger patients earlier this year, and found that the rate is slightly lower in younger, healthier women.

The researchers found that 33 percent of women who had diabetes while taking the drug eventually reported heart problems, as opposed to the 6 percent of women who did not have diabetes. After the women ceased taking the drug, every patient except one fully recovered, the media outlet stated.

"This is the first study specifically to assess trastuzumab-related cardiac toxicity and the cardiovascular factors that are associated with an increased risk in a selected population of elderly breast cancer patients," Dr. Cesar Serrano, the study' author said in a recent statement. Serrano was a clinical fellow at the Department of Medical Oncology Breast Cancer Center at the Vall d'Hebron University Hospital in Spain while he compiled the data.

Serrano suggests that older women who have a history of heart problems and are being treated with Herceptin should see a cardiologist, as possible heart problems may arise.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there are several factors that may contribute to the development of breast cancer, including older age.