Today is National Wear Red Day – a day about raising awareness and funds for congenital heart disease. Cancer treatments can sometimes have an effect on the heart. In this blog, cancer information nurse Richard shares some tips to help you keep your heart healthy before, during and after cancer treatment.

Cancer treatment and the heart

Some cancer treatments can affect how your heart works. Heart problems can develop:

  • during or soon after cancer treatment
  • many years later.

The heart problems may be temporary or sometimes permanent.

The risk of heart problems depends on the type of cancer treatment and how much treatment you have. Your risk may be higher if:

  • you have other risk factors
  • you had a heart problem before starting cancer treatment
  • you have several cancer treatments at the same time.

Your cancer doctor will explain if a cancer treatment is likely to affect your heart. If you are worried about heart problems, ask them for more information.

Top 10 tips for heart health

These tips will help to keep your heart healthy before, during and after cancer treatment.

1. Tell your cancer doctor if you already have a heart problem. You should also tell them if you have any risk factors.

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

3. If you have a heart problem, your doctor will want to make sure it is controlled. 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.

4. Do not stop taking any medication that you have been given for your heart unless you have been told to. If you have side effects, talk to your doctor.

5. When you finish cancer treatment, ask your cancer doctor if you will need regular heart check-ups and for how long.

6. Go to your heart follow-up appointments, even if you don’t have any heart symptoms. Some heart problems may not cause symptoms, but problems may show up on tests arranged during follow-up appointments.

A quote from our supporter Judith

7. Know the warning symptoms of heart problems. If you get any of them, contact your GP.

8. If you have risk factors for heart problems, ask your GP or nurse for information and advice about reducing your risk. Your GP or nurse can also talk to you about a health check to assess risk of heart disease.

9. If your lifestyle means you are at a greater risk of heart problems, make some changes.

A quote from our supporter Dave

10. Get more information and support about heart disease and keeping your heart healthy. Check out the info on our website or take a look at the British Heart Foundation.

You may find it helpful to read our information about cancer treatment and the heart. We can also send you a free booklet about Heart health and cancer treatment.

An image of the Heart health and cancer treatment booklet


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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