Hard on the heels of a major national survey assessing the impact of cardio-oncology care, the American College of Cardiology has appointed Ana Barac, MD, PhD, FACC, chair of a new section devoted to the developing field. Dr. Barac is founder and director of MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute’s cardio-oncology program—the first in the Baltimore-Washington area—and lead author of the survey’s seminal report, “Cardiovascular Health of Patients with Cancer and Cancer Survivors,” which paved the way for the section’s creation.
Published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the survey examined the current state of cardio-oncology services, practices and opinions among cardiology division chiefs and cardiovascular fellowship program training directors, primarily at tertiary academic institutions. Of survey respondents, 70 percent called the cardiovascular implications of cancer treatment “very important,” and more than half agreed that patient care would improve with a cardio-oncology service or staff.
However, only 27 percent reported having an established, specialized cardio-oncology service with more than one clinician. The absence of national guidelines was frequently cited as a barrier to creating more programs.
“Despite the significant number of cancer patients experiencing treatment-related cardiovascular issues, we are lacking the proper resources to care for these patients,” says Dr. Barac. “The new cardio-oncology section is dedicated to filling this gap.”
By providing a forum for cardio-oncology specialists to share best practices and develop educational tools, practice standards and training programs, the new section will work to expand knowledge of the new cancer therapies and their possible adverse effects on the heart. The goal is to improve patient care and outcomes.
Scientists first discovered the link between cancer treatments and deleterious cardiovascular effects in the late 1960s, giving birth to the origins of cardio-oncology. Today’s cancer therapies can cause heart failure, cardiac dysfunction, arrhythmias, valvular heart disease, accelerated atherosclerosis and pericardial disease.
In addition to the JACC publication, a summary of survey results and conclusions also appeared in the June 22 posting of ScienceDaily.