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Has your heart been affected by cancer treatment? Or do you have an existing heart condition as well as cancer?

Macmillan has recently been working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation to produce a new booklet called Heart health and cancer treatment. The booklet explains how the heart works and how some cancer treatments, in some cases, can cause heart problems. It also discusses how these can be managed by your medical team.

We’ve included lots of information about steps you can take to look after your heart. For example, the booklet includes these ten top tips for before, during and after cancer treatment:

  Ask your cancer doctor if the treatment you are having is likely to affect your heart. If it is, find out how they will monitor your heart during your treatment.

  Tell your cancer doctor if you already have a heart problem, high blood pressure or a family history of heart problems before you start your cancer treatment.

  Make sure any heart problems you have are controlled before your cancer treatment begins. For example, if you know your blood pressure is usually high, get it checked by your GP. You may be prescribed medicines to control it.

  When you come to the end of your treatment, ask your cancer doctor if you will need regular heart check-ups, and for how long these should continue.

  Continue to take any medication that you have been prescribed for your heart and don’t stop taking it unless you’ve been told to. If you have troublesome side effects, talk to your doctor.

 I take eight medicines a day but it is a small price to pay. They are helping to keep me healthy. My last chemo treatment was in 2000 so this coming September, it will be 14 years.

  Attend your heart follow-up appointments, even if you don’t have any heart symptoms. Remember that early damage to the heart may not cause symptoms. But any damage may show up on tests arranged during follow-up appointments. This means it can be treated quickly and more serious heart problems can be prevented. 

  Know the symptoms of heart disease and if you get any of them, see your GP.

  If your lifestyle means you are at a greater risk of heart disease, change it. Eating well, doing regular exercise, reducing stress, drinking alcohol moderately and stopping smoking will all improve your heart health.

 The one thing I've discovered is this - being healthy is about changing your lifestyle, not just going on a diet. It's about getting the right advice and making simple changes. They can make all the difference in the world.

  Make sure you’re getting the right support. You can get more information about heart disease and support from the British Heart Foundation. Call their Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311 (Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm). If you’d like more information about cancer and its treatment, contact Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday–Friday, 9am–8pm).

  If you feel stressed or anxious, get support from the people around you and try using relaxation techniques.

The booklet also gives an overview of some of the common drugs that you may be prescribed if you have problems with your heart, including how they work and possible side effects. Plus, we go into greater detail on ways you can keep physically active, what foods you should be eating more and less of, and how you can help control stress and anxiety.

The booklet has been enriched by quotes from people in this very online community! So a big thanks to those of you who let us use comments from your conversations.

We hope this new booklet will be helpful for lots of you. You can order a free copy from be.Macmillan or call us on 0808 808 00 00.

We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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