LifestyleYour Health Matters


Heart health and a cancer diagnosis go hand and hand, a warning from IU Health

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Posted at 11:21 AM, Jan 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-26 11:21:27-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Cancer is something that can change everything in someone's life, but doctors at IU Health are focusing on more than the cancer diagnosis.

They're looking at the entire picture to make sure patients receive the best care.

Cancer treatments can cause other side effects, and a big one is deteriorating heart health.

If a patients heart isn't in good shape it can limit care options.

"Cardiovascular health is extremely important in the context of the cancer diagnosis it works in parallel, in tandem with your oncology treatment," Dr. Suparna Clasen with IU Health said.

Dr. Clasen is a cardio-oncologist who works to use a patient center model of care for her patients.

She says at IU Health they focus on the patients heart health before, during and after a cancer treatment.

"Focus on trying to keep the patients as healthy as we can for as long as we can, and to give them as many options as we can, so they can get the best anticancer therapy they need for their oncology journey," Dr. Clasen said.

The goal with this type of care is to make sure patients receive the best care possible.

Often times if a patients heart health isn't where it should be they can't receive the best treatment for their cancer.

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Which means much of patients treatment, like Kari Adam's involves conversations with doctors about how to keep their heart healthy.

From diet to exercise, learning about ways to make sure their heart can handle the treatment.

"It kind of forced me to kind of wake up and keep track of things," Kari Adams said.

Adams was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma in April of 2019. It's a rare type of cancer that grown on smooth muscles.

"I was like what's the survival rate? Am I going to be here when my kids get married, am I going to be here for my kids to have babies?" Adams said.

Her type of cancer can leave tumors on different parts of the body. From the intestines, stomach, bladder and even part of the uterus.

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"It was a shocker. I was there for back pain and here they were finding a tumor in the middle of my abdomen," Adams said.

Adams remembers the day she was diagnosed with cancer, but says she never let it stop her from moving forward.

"Don't dwell on the diagnosis. I have seven kids. So I have to keep the household going," Adams said. "I never really focused on the fact that I was sick, it was just something else I had to do."

In the short time WRTV's Kaitlyn Kendall got to know her, she said it was easy to tell Adams had an uncanny ability to just take anything life threw at her with stride.

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Adams has gone through chemotherapy, immunotherapy and other cancer drugs.

Those drugs did put her heart at risk, and it's one of the reasons she is an advocate for staying healthy.

There are so many things you can do to take care of your heart, so should you get a diagnosis you are able to face it the best way possible.

IU Health shared some tips for heart health:

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Don't Smoke
  • Control cholesterol and blood pressure