Our Cardio-Oncology Clinic

One of the unfortunate side effects of cancer treatments such as chemotherapy is that the treatment can lead to certain cardiovascular diseases. To address these issues, we have a separate clinic dedicated to this specialty — our Hunterdon Cardio-Oncology Clinic.

Here’s some more information about this aspect of our services.

What is cardio-oncology?

Cardio-oncology involves the treatment of cancer patients who, as a side effect of their cancer treatment, are having cardiovascular problems. These problems typically are caused by the cancer drugs or radiation therapy used in their oncology treatments. In this medical specialty, heart specialists are paired with cancer specialists. The goal is to allow continued cancer treatment without worrying if the patient’s heart will be able to take it.

Our Hunterdon Cardio-Oncology Clinic treats patients who are currently receiving cancer treatment, as well as cancer survivors whose chemotherapy, radiation, or medications may have led to continuing heart problems.

Why is this important?

Cardio-oncology is a relatively new area of cardiology. Previously, so much attention was placed on attacking the cancer that effects these treatments were having on the heart were missed. This clinic now watches for signs the cancer treatment is adversely impacting the patient’s heart. This isn’t simply an issue with patients receiving treatment for current cancers. It also involves cancer survivors who need ongoing treatment to keep the cancer in remission.

What tests are involved in cardio-oncology?

If possible, we seek to test our patients prior to the start of their cancer treatment. This gives us a benchmark of your heart’s performance before any impacts occur due to your cancer treatment.

These tests will likely include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG) — An electrocardiogram provides a picture of your heart’s electrical activity. The electric signals passed across your heart initiate the heartbeat and regulate its normal rhythm. Cancer drugs and radiation can cause arrhythmias, where your heart is beating with abnormal rhythm.
  • Echocardiogram — This ultrasound test provides images of your moving heart. Strain imaging evaluates the function of the heart muscle.
  • Ejection Fraction — The muscle of your heart is in the left ventricle. With each heartbeat, this muscle needs to push a certain amount of blood out of the left ventricle to the rest of the body. We measure your ejection fraction, which is the amount of blood being pushed out. Some cancer treatments can lower this number. To take this measure we may use echocardiograms, MUGA scans, or cardiac MRIs.
  • Cardiac Catheterization — We may run a catheter, usually through an artery in the groin, up to the heart to evaluate the arteries of your heart.

If you’re facing upcoming treatment for cancer, our Cardio-Oncology Clinic could be a valuable resource. Please give us a call at (908) 788-1710 with any questions or concerns you may have.

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