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Heart problems are a common side effect in patients with cancer because cancer treatments can impair heart function and structure or accelerate development of heart disease, especially when patients have risk factors such as high blood pressure, according to the authors.
The review paper, published online Oct. 6 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, emphasizes the importance of each patient having an individual exercise plan that takes into account personal history, cancer treatment, response to exercise and personal preferences.
"Cancer patients are often less active than adults without cancer," said study author Dr. Flavio D'Ascenzi, a cardiologist from the University of Siena in Italy. "However, exercise is essential for patients diagnosed with cancer who are under treatment, irrespective of the type of treatment.
"Endurance training is more effective for improving cardiovascular performance and reducing inflammation, but resistance training may be a better starting point for frail cancer patients," he explained in a journal news release.
"Other types of exercise, such as inspiratory muscle training [breathing exercises], are safe and effective, particularly in those with thoracic cancer; therefore, the specific exercise should be chosen based on individual characteristics," D'Ascenzi said.
A patient's exercise regimen should be drafted by a multidisciplinary team, including oncologists, cardiologists, physical therapists, nurses, nutritionists and psychologists, the researchers advised.
"Physical activity before, during and after cancer treatment can counteract the negative effects of therapies on the cardiovascular system. In addition, it can relieve symptoms such as nausea and fatigue and help prevent unwanted changes in body weight," D'Ascenzi concluded.
-- Robert Preidt
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