Factors such as smoking, diabetes and hypertension were far better indicators of an older woman’s likelihood of suffering a cardiovascular event than being a breast cancer survivor, according to a study published this month in The American Journal of Managed Care.
Breast cancer survival rates are rising due to better screening and early detection. That means breast cancer survivors are aging, with more than half the 2.6 million women who have beaten the disease over age 65. That also means these women suffer the same ailments common among older Americans, including cardiovascular disease, which is the leading killer among those who have had breast cancer.
But the question remained: Did having breast put a woman at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, or were the other factors that came with getting older the culprit?
The AJMC study examined 2,722 women, half of them breast cancer survivors and half cancer-free, and followed them for 15 years to answer this question, considering factors such as race, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), smoking habits, hypertension, and whether the women had diabetes.
Results found the women who had survived cancer were more likely to suffer from hypertension than those who had been cancer-free, while smoking habits and diabetes status were not significantly different. While equal numbers experienced a cardiovascular event – 45.3 percent of the cancer group and 47.7 percent of the control group – no overall differences were seen. The strongest predictors of whether a woman would have cardiovascular disease were whether she had diabetes, hypertension, or had used tobacco. The study concluded that primary care physicians are well-equipped to manage cardiovascular screening for cancer survivors, based on these results. For the full study visit – http://www.ajmc.com/