High risk of cardiovascular side effects after treatment of Hodgkin’s lymphoma – is there a need for intervention in long-term survivors?
Background: Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) patients have a good prognosis after adequate treatment. Previous treatment with mantle field irradiation has been accompanied by an increased long-term risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study identified co-morbidity factors for the development of cardiovascular side effects and initiated an intervention study aimed to decrease morbidity and mortality of CVD in HL survivors.
Design: Hodgkin lymphoma patients aged ≤45 years diagnosed between 1965 and 1995 were invited to participate. In total, 453 patients completed a questionnaire that addressed co-morbidity factors and clinical symptoms. Of these, 319 accepted to participate in a structured clinical visit. The statistical analyses compared individuals with CVD with those with no CVD.
Results: Cardiovascular disease was reported by 27.9%. Radiotherapy (odds ratio [OR]: 3.27), hypertension and hypercholesterolemia were shown to be independent risk factors for the development of CVD. The OR for CVD and valve disease in patients who received radiotherapy towards mediastinum was 4.48 and 6.07, respectively. At clinical visits, 42% of the patients were referred for further investigation and 24% of these had a cardiac ultrasound performed due to previously unknown heart murmurs.
Conclusion: Radiotherapy towards mediastinum was an independent risk factor for CVD as well as hypercholesterolemia and hypertension. A reasonable approach as intervention for this cohort of patients is regular monitoring of hypertension and hypercholesterolemia and referral to adequate investigation when cardiac symptoms appear. Broad knowledge about the side effects from radiotherapy in the medical community and well-structured information regarding late side effects to the patients are all reasonable approaches as late effects can occur even 40 years after cancer treatment.
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