Patients with Heart Failure More Likely to Develop Cancer Post-Cardiac Arrest

Approximately 12.3% of patients diagnosed with heart failure were diagnosed with cancer.

A recent study found that patients who develop heart failure after their first heart attack have an increased risk of cancer compared with patients who did not develop heart failure.

A 70% cancer risk has been observed in patients with heart failure. In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers evaluated 1081 patients who had their first heart attack between 2002 and 2010.

After the heart attack, 21% of patients were diagnosed with heart failure, and 12.3% of those patients were then diagnosed with cancer. The most common cancers among patients with heart failure were respiratory, digestive, and hematologic, according to the study.

Researchers found that cancer risk was initially similar between the 2 groups, but patients with heart failure showed a higher cancer risk during the follow-up period. They also did not discover a relationship between medication and cancer risk, since the 2 groups were prescribed the same medications.

They also did not find that increased physician visits did not increase cancer risk.

“Cancer constitutes an enormous burden to society, and both cancer and heart failure are well-known causes of increased mortality,” said senior author of the study Veronique Roger, MD. “Our research suggests an association between both diseases, and it's possible that as we learn more about how this connection works, we can prevent deaths. In the meantime, physicians should recognize this increased cancer risk for heart failure patients and follow guideline recommended surveillance and early detection practices.”