Caring For Your Heart through Cancer

Dr. Michael Fradley, a USF Health Cardio-Oncologist and cancer survivor, has dedicated his life’s work to mitigating the impact cancer treatment can have on the hearts of patients.

As a big believer in patient advocacy and early intervention, he feels it’s important for patients to know that the cancer treatments saving their lives may lead to a heart condition.

“The goal is to prevent toxicities from occurring, intervening and trying to modify risk factors that can damage the heart,” Dr. Fradley said. “This proactive approach can prevent complications if we are able to intervene in patient care early.”

Cardio-oncology is a highly specialized field that is growing and being adopted globally. But patients may still need to ask their oncologist about their long-term heart health before, during and after cancer treatment. Patients from the greater Tampa Bay area and across Florida are benefiting from the integrated, research-driven care offered through USF Health and Moffitt Cancer Center’s collaborative Cardio-Oncology program.

Here’s how the program benefits patients…
The research of biomedical engineer Hua Pan, PhD, assistant professor of cardiovascular sciences and member of the USF Health Heart Institute, studies how molecular mechanisms damage the heart during cancer treatments. Her findings are integrated into the care of patients in USF Health’s Cardio-Oncology program.

As a cardio-oncologist, Dr. Fradley works closely with Dr. Ismail-Kahn, medical oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, and reviews the cancer treatment plan for each patient. Dr. Fradley then evaluates the patient’s cardiac condition to determine risk factors and manages complications during and after cancer care.

When does a patient need a cardio-oncologist?
Dr. Fradley encourages cancer patients and survivors to be evaluated and possibly cared for by a cardio-oncologist especially if they have:
– A known cardiac condition and are now receiving cancer treatment as they may need modifications in their therapies.
– Developed a cardiac condition as result of their cancer treatment.
– Survived their cancer but have been exposed to certain toxic therapies (such as anthracyclines, a common class of chemotherapeutics or radiation) as the cardiac effects may not become apparent for many years after their treatment.

Preventative Approach
“We are especially interested in taking a preventative approach,” Dr. Fradley said. “We want to be proactive and minimize the likelihood of these complications from occurring.”
This involves a comprehensive cardiovascular risk reduction program focusing on lifestyle modifications, including exercise and dietary habits, along with blood pressure and cholesterol control. Dr. Fradley may also recommend different screening tests, such as echocardiograms or coronary calcium imaging, depending on the type of cancer therapy to which a patient has been exposed.

Forefront of Medicine
The USF Health-Moffitt Cancer Center program is one of only a few programs in the state with multiple on-going research studies that are directly benefiting the health of patients in their fight against cancer, including studies focusing on chemotherapy induced heart failure and treatment associated with atrial fibrillation.

“In the last five years, the interest in cardio-oncology has grown rapidly,” Dr. Fradley said. “Nevertheless, there is still a relatively small number of cardiologists specializing in cardio-oncology. As such, there is significant collaboration at many different organizations throughout the world working to better understand the mechanism of these cardiovascular issues and ultimately improve patient care.”

For more information on USF Health’s Cardio-oncology program, check out our Health & Wellness Facebook Live Series with Dr. Fradley.

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