New research aims to improve healthcare for cancer patients with heart disease

A new study led by cardiologists at Keele University could have a significant impact on treatment procedures for people with both cancer and heart disease after a major analysis revealed significantly worse health outcomes for patients with both of these conditions.

The study, led by members of Keele’s Cardiovascular Research Group alongside international colleagues, looked at data from 6.5 million patients in the USA who were treated for a heart attack as well as having a current or historical diagnosis of cancer.

The aim of the research was to determine whether patients with heart disease who had also received a cancer diagnosis had significantly worse health outcomes than those who hadn’t, looking at differences in their treatment and the types of cancer they were diagnosed with.

The results, which have been published in the European Heart Journal, showed that those patients who had received a cancer diagnosis suffered from significantly worse health outcomes following a subsequent heart attack than those who hadn’t previously received a cancer diagnosis, with lead author Professor Mamas Mamas saying that the variations in treatment plans between these groups could be a contributing factor.

Professor Mamas suggests that cardiologists may have been reluctant to treat the heart attack in cancer patients using invasive methods involving coronary stents due to concerns about safety, but argues that these findings present a compelling case for considering these treatment options in the future.

Professor Mamas said: “Our analysis suggests that one in ten patients presenting with a heart attack will have a history of current or historical cancer and yet we have little data about how best to treat these patients.

“Our work shows that cancer patients are treated less invasively with coronary stents following a heart attack, and so their clinical outcomes are much worse, depending on both the type and stage of cancer. Our findings suggest that cancer patients with a heart attack who are treated with stents do much better than those without.

“This work will raise awareness of the suboptimal care received by cancer patients and provide clinicians with more data to give the best possible treatment to patients.”