In our latest blog, our Information Access volunteer Nis looks at ways of keeping your heart healthy during and after cancer treatment.

This February, the British Heart Foundation is celebrating Heart Month. Heart Month aims to increase people’s awareness of how to keep their heart healthy. Looking after your heart is important for everyone. If you are having or recovering from cancer treatment, there are things you can do to look after your heart.

Here are some helpful tips about looking after your heart:

  • Eat wellA balanced diet usually includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, some carbohydrates , some protein, some dairy foods and a small amount of foods high in fat.
  • Avoid foods and drinks that affect your heart – this means not having too much red meat, fatty foods, salt, sugary drinks and alcohol.
  • Keep to a healthy weight – Try to keep to an average weight – you can get advice from your doctor about what is a healthy weight for you.
  • Keep physically active – Walking, gardening and housework are all ways of keeping active.
  • Manage stress and anxietyTalk to someone close to you or your healthcare team if you are suffering from stress or anxiety. They can help you find ways to manage this.

Looking after your heart during cancer treatment

A picture of the cover of our booklet, Heart health and cancer treatment, which was written in partnership with the British Heart Foundation.

It’s important for everyone to look after their heart. If you have cancer, sometimes the treatments can affect your heart. We have put together a booklet in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, called Heart health and cancer treatment. It contains suggestions to help you look after your heart before and during your treatment. 

Here are a few helpful tips from the booklet on looking after your heart during 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.

  • 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.

    A quote from Kyle saying '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.'

  • 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.

  • If your lifestyle means you are at a greater risk of heart disease, make some changes, such as a healthier diet.
  • 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).

    A quote from Dave saying 'The one big 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.'


More information and support

In this blog, we’ve tried to give you some suggestions to help you keep a healthy heart during and after your treatment. Talk to your cancer doctor if you’re worried about any aspect of your treatment. If your treatment has finished and you have concerns about your heart health, talk to your doctor.

As well as the booklet, we have information on our website about how cancer treatments can affect your heart and what you can do.

To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.

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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