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Can Breast Cancer Cause Heart Palpitations

Laboratory Radiographic And Other Tests That Are Likely To Be Useful In Diagnosing The Cause Of This Problem

Longtime breast cancer survivors at greater risk for heart complications

A CBC, metabolic panel, TSH, and toxicology screen are common labs that should be obtained during the initial workup of palpitations. To evaluate for cardiac causes, an initial EKG should also be obtained. Patients with a history of heart disease or abnormal EKG may be candidates for further evaluation such as ambulatory ECG or Echocardiography to evaluate for structural abnormalities. A stress test can also be performed if the palpitations are triggered by exertional activity. Holter monitors can be considered for patents with almost daily episodes, but event recorders are more cost effective for infrequent episodes of palpitations. Further testing such as cardiac magnetic resonance imaging or EP studies should be considered on an individual basis. Inpatient workup for palpitations should be considered if there is evidence to suggest severe structural heart disease or presence of arrhythmias.

When To Worry About Heart Palpitations

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

At some point in our lives, most all of us will experience heart fluttering, racing, skipping, or another kind of irregular heartbeat. Its incredibly common. But because it affects the heart, it also can be incredibly frightening.

Myself, Ive had a couple episodes with PVCs . Let me tell you, they get your attention!

I saw hundreds of patients over the years who were concerned about heart palpitations. In many of those cases, the irregular beats turned out to be 100 percent benignnothing to worry about. But I also saw a lot of people whose palpitations were their bodies way of telling them that their heart needed help.

Breast Cancer Linked To Higher Odds For Dangerous A

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 16, 2021 — Women with breast cancer are known to have heart problems related to treatment, and now a new study shows their odds of developing an abnormal heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation may increase in the wake of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Women who develop a-fib within a month of a breast cancer diagnosis are more likely to die from heart- or blood vessel-related problems within a year, the new research suggests.

A-fib occurs when the upper chambers of the heart quiver chaotically, causing a fast and irregular heartbeat. Symptoms may include heart palpitations, breathlessness, dizziness, and/or extreme fatigue. When left undiagnosed or untreated, a-fib dramatically raises the risk for stroke and heart failure.

Exactly why these two conditions travel together is not fully understood yet.

“Traditional risk factors such as age, cardiovascular risk factors remain risk factors for a-fib after a breast cancer diagnosis,” said study author Dr. Avirup Guha, an assistant professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. But “surgery, chemotherapy, inflammation and imbalances in the body’s normal processes caused by the cancer may be implicated,” he said.

Stress can also contribute to a-fib, and the emotional stress that often accompanies a new breast cancer diagnosis may play a role, but the researchers didn’t look at stress in this study.

The findings were published Nov. 14 in the European Heart Journal.

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Caffeinated Foods / Beverages

The research around caffeine is a little less definitive since a study released at the start of 2016 found no relationship between caffeine consumption and palpitations. However, those results dont change the fact that caffeine revs up your sympathetic nervous system and spikes your levels of stress hormones , raising your blood pressure and increasing your heart rate. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic, which can wash away your potassium and magnesium stores, creating an electrolyte imbalance that disrupts the heart rhythm.

In my experience, placing extra stress on the heartas caffeine doescan aggravate existing arrhythmias or cause new ones. One of the reasons beta blockers are prescribed to heart attack patients is that they help control heart rate and prevent sudden changes in heart rate and rhythm by blunting the effect of the stress hormone adrenaline.

For those of you with healthy hearts, your daily dose of coffee, tea, or chocolate probably wont cause any harm. Beware, though, of caffeine-containing energy drinks, which are particularly popular with young people. These drinks, which combine caffeine with large amounts of sugar, have been linked with heart palpitations, arrhythmia, heart attack, and sudden cardiac death in adolescents and young adults.

Heart Problems Caused By Cancer Treatment

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Some cancer treatments can affect how your heart works. This may cause heart problems that are either short term or long-term.

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Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs to destroy cancer cells. Some types of chemotherapy may cause heart problems. The risk can be higher if you are:

  • taking several chemotherapy drugs together
  • having chemotherapy with chest radiotherapy
  • also having some types of targeted therapies.

Your age when you have chemotherapy may also increase the risk of heart problems. With some types of chemotherapy the risk of a heart problem is increased in:

  • young children
  • people over 65 years old.

Your cancer doctor will explain any risks before you start chemotherapy. Different drugs can cause different problems:

  • Some drugs are only likely to cause heart problems if you have a high dose. Your cancer doctor will plan your treatment carefully and record the doses you are given.
  • Some drugs may cause heart changes during or shortly after you have treatment.
  • Some drugs can cause heart problems many years later these are known as late effects.

Some chemotherapy drugs are given into a vein with large amounts of fluid. If you already have a heart condition, this can put pressure on your heart and may cause problems. Your nurse will monitor you for any signs of problems while you have these treatments.

Also Check: What Does Malignant Neoplasm Of Breast Mean

What To Do If Foods Cause You Heart Palpitations

First off, take note if you feel any additional symptoms, because those could signal that youre experiencing more than simple palpitations. Seek emergency medical help if at any point you also have:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper back, arms, neck, or jaw
  • Feeling of impending doom

If its the first time youve ever noticed heart palpitations, make a follow-up appointment with your doctor. Its likely nothing is wrong, but its always best to err on the side of caution and make sure that the food-related episode isnt the first sign of a bigger issue.

Next, start a log and record times when the palpitations recur. Note what you ate or drank and what sort of emotional state you were in. If specific foods or beverages tend to cause recurrences, take that as a sign you should reduce or eliminate those foods from your diet. Your body and your heart couldnt be telling you any more clearly that those substances are doing you harm.

Here Are Some Common Causes Of Heart Palpitations Which You Must Know

1. Overactive Thyroid Glands

Thyroid glands are very important in the growth and development of the body. Also various processes of you body are regulated and controlled by the thyroid glands. If your thyroid glands are under active or over active, it can have a vital effect on your body. The heart palpitations can also cause due to activeness fluctuation of the thyroid glands!

2. Over Stress And Anxiety

Stress and anxiety have a vital effect on our body. If you are over stressed, you r body and especially heart would get affected with this condition. Stress and anxiety can cause various health complications. Due to stress, the blood flow gets reduced which can result into pressure and heart related issues. Thus, one of the reasons behaving heart palpitations are stress and anxiety!

3. Hormonal Changes

Hormones are the most and significant elements of your body! If they are balanced, they can maintain the health and well being of the boy and if they get out of control, they can ruin the functioning of the body. The hormonal changes due to menstruation cycle, pregnancy, menopause and several such conditions can cause heart issues and heart palpitations!

4. Low Blood Pressure

Blood pressure has a direct impact on the heart. If you are suffering from extreme low blood pressure, it would affect your normal heart rates. This would make your heart feel heavy and weighty. This is one if the cause of heart palpitations which you should keep in mind!

6. Vigorous Physical Activities

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Iv What’s The Evidence

Abbott, AV. Diagnostic approach to palpitations.. Am Fam Physician.. vol. 71. 2005. pp. 743-50.

Raviele, A, Giada, F, Bergfeldt, L, Blanc, JJ, Blomstrom-Lundqvist, C, Mont, L. Management of patients with palpitations: a position paper from the European Heart Rhythm Association. Europace. vol. 13. 2011.

Zimetbaum, P, Josephson, ME. Evaluation of patients with palpitations.. N Engl J Med. vol. 338. 1998. pp. 1369

Brugada, P, Gürsoy, S, Brugada, J, Andries, E.. Investigation of palpitations.. Lancet.. vol. 341. 1993 May 15. pp. 1254-8..

No sponsor or advertiser has participated in, approved or paid for the content provided by Decision Support in Medicine LLC. The Licensed Content is the property of and copyrighted by DSM.

Sharing Stories Of Patients Who Died Prematurely

Chest X-ray for symptomatic lung cancer

A prominent advocate for cancer survivors who served on an NCI advisory board, Stovall had been treated for three different cancers over many years. Some of the therapies led to chronic health problems, and about 2 years ago, at the age of 69, Stovall died suddenly. The cause of her death was complications of cardiovascular disease related to her cancer treatments.

Another example discussed at the meeting was a woman who developed heart disease related to treatments for multiple cancers that led to emergency triple-bypass surgery. She died at age 47.

We cannot cure patients of one cancer, only to have them develop a second cancer and treatment-related cardiac problems that result in a triple bypass before age 50, Dr. Dent commented.

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Historical Information Important In The Diagnosis Of This Problem

A thorough history is important in evaluation of palpitations. It is important to obtain the circumstances surrounding palpitation episodes including activity, position,and predisposing factors. It is also important to ask about associated symptoms such as syncope or near-syncope, chest pain, nausea, vomiting or diaphoresis. Patient should also be asked to describe the onset of episodes including the speed of onset, duration, and termination. A long-standing history of these symptoms may reflect a chronic, more benign process, whereas an acute presentation may necessitate a more urgent workup. A thorough history of prior medical conditions, family history, medications and drug use, including non-prescription and illcits should be obtained.

One Example: Cardiac Side Effects And Breast Cancer

Over the past decade, breast cancer has been a focus of research on cardiac side effects, in part because certain treatments for the disease are known to cause these side effects.

Based on this evidence, the American Heart Association recently issued a rare scientific statement on cardiovascular disease and breast cancer. For some breast cancer survivorsolder individuals in particularthe risk of dying from cardiovascular disease may exceed the risk of dying from cancer, the authors of the statement noted.

Dawn L. Hershman, M.D., who studies breast cancer at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center, agreed. The reality is weve made a huge amount of progress in treating breast cancer, and today women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer are more likely to die of cardiac disease than of cancer, she said in an interview.

Researchers are using zebrafish to study how the cancer drug doxorubicin affects the heart. Normal fish and a fish that developed cardiomyopathy after treatment with doxorubicin .

Although some breast cancer treatments, such as HER2-targeted therapies, doxorubicin, and radiation therapy, are known to cause cardiac side effects, other factors can affect a patients cardiovascular health as well, Dr. Hershman pointed out.

Read Also: Can Breast Cancer Go Away

Atrial Fibrillation And Death Are More Common During The First Year After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Women are significantly more likely to develop an abnormal and often rapid heart rhythm in the first year after being diagnosed with breast cancer than women without cancer, according to research published in the European Heart Journal .

The study also found that patients who developed the condition, known as atrial fibrillation, after a breast cancer diagnosis had a three-fold increased risk of dying from heart or blood vessel problems within one year.

The study is the first to evaluate health problems and deaths associated with atrial fibrillation following a diagnosis of breast cancer. It analysed 85,423 women aged 66 years or older who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2007 and 2014. In the one-year period after their diagnosis 4% of patients developed atrial fibrillation. The women were matched with the same number of healthy women without breast cancer, and only 2% of these women developed atrial fibrillation over the same period.

Atrial fibrillation developed more often in women who were not treated with surgery or radiation as their first course of therapy than in women who did receive these treatments: 23.5% versus 10.4%, and 66.5% versus 52.3%, respectively. Although the highest risk of atrial fibrillation was associated with women who did not have surgery, more complicated surgery such as mastectomy was associated with a higher risk than simple procedures such as lumpectomy .

B Describe A Diagnostic Approach/method To The Patient With This Problem

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Given the broad differential diagnoses, it is important to determine whether the patients symptoms are due to a serious or potentially life-threatening process, or whether they are from a more benign etiology. Evaluation should begin with obtaining a thorough history, including frequency, duration, chronicity, triggers, and associated symptoms.

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Talking To Your Healthcare Provider

It is crucial that you talk to your oncologist and healthcare team about any and all symptoms you are experiencing. Some of these symptoms, such as pain, are under-treated in people with metastatic cancer. This is not because healthcare providers fail to treat the symptoms, but because they are simply unaware that a person is coping with them.

Breast Cancer Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

With all of the talk about people with cancer being brave or strong, you might hesitate to share symptoms that could make you appear frightened or weak. Yet facing metastatic cancer is frightening, and being able to share your concerns is a sign of strength, not weakness. There is a lot that can be done to ease most of the symptoms of metastatic breast cancer, but the only way that your oncologist can know what you are feeling is if you are brave enough to speak up.

In addition, sharing your symptoms, even if they may seem of little consequence to you, may help your oncologist better recognize the extent of your disease, anticipate potential complications, and suggest the best possible treatments for your disease.

What Are The Special Needs Of Patients Who Received Radiation To The Chest And Later Require Heart Surgery

Each patient who receives radiation therapy may have different prior histories and extent of therapy. Each patient needs to be individually evaluated to determine the effect of prior radiation therapy on their heart, lungs and blood vessels. The surgery needs to be well planned with respect to the possibility of radiation damage to the underlying tissues and organs. Patients should seek a Center of Excellence with experience in performing surgery on patients with prior radiation exposure. Centers with experience and who provide a variety of surgical techniques and approaches can provide the patient with the least amount of trauma and .the best outcome.

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C Criteria For Diagnosing Each Diagnosis In The Method Above

In addition to pursuing a workup for organic causes, psychiatric etiolgoies should also be considered. Panic/Anxiety disorders can be classified based on DSM IV criteria. Symptoms of a panic attack, in addition to palpitations, include sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, choking sensations, chest discomfort, abdominal discomfort, lightheadedness, feelings of detachment, fear of losing control, fear of death, paresthesias, and chills/hot flashes. The criteria for a panic attack includes four symptoms within 10 minutes. Screening questions related to these other somatic symptoms may be helpful to gauge suspicion for panic/anxiety disorders. It may be helpful to ultimately obtain a psychiatric consultation to assist with a formal diagnosis.

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People with a history of cancer have an over two-fold risk of developing atrial fibrillation , the most common heart rhythm disorder, compared to the general population, according to research presented at the American College of Cardiologys Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology . In particular, people who had prostate cancer had the highest burden of AFib, followed by those with colon, lung and breast cancers.

While earlier studies have shown that people with cancer are at greater risk for developing AFib at the time of cancer diagnosis, prior to any treatment and after therapy is initiated, researchers said this is the first study to examine AFibs association with specific cancer types. With AFib, the heart doesnt always beat or keep pace the way it should, which can lead to palpitations, dizziness and fatigue. If untreated, it can lead to blood clots, stroke and heart failure. People with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke than people without the condition.

The findings suggest that other factors related to the specific type of cancer itself may be contributing to AFib in these patients, Khan said.

Khan said that he was surprised about the higher incidence of AFib with prostate cancer when compared with other cancers studied. While the researchers do not know why this might be, they have some ideas.

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