graphic medical image of human heartYou need chemotherapy to treat your cancer, but the last thing that you want is to develop another severe health problem. Chemotherapy medications are toxins that can cause serious health problems, such as cardiac toxicity. Before you start chemotherapy, you will review all of the cancer-fighting benefits of your medications with your doctor and discuss the potential risks so that you can make an educated decision about whether or not to take the drugs.

What Is Cardiac Toxicity?

When a toxin, such as a chemotherapy drug, damages the heart, the condition is known as cardiac toxicity. A person with cardiac toxicity may experience:

  • Heart arrhythmias. Heart arrhythmias are changes in your heart’s normal rhythm.
  • Heart failure. When the heart is in failure, it isn’t strong enough to supply your body with oxygen and nutrients efficiently.
  • Cardiomyopathy. This happens when there is a change in the heart muscle, such as a weakening, enlarging, or thickening. It can cause a change in heart rhythm or heart failure.
  • Myocarditis. Myocarditis is a swelling of the heart that can cause changes in heart rhythm or heart failure.
  • Pericarditis. Pericarditis is a swelling of the sac around the heart that can cause chest pain or heart failure.
  • Acute coronary syndrome. This happens when the blood vessels in the heart are damaged, and it can result in chest pain or a heart attack.

Chemo Drugs That Can Cause Cardiac Toxicity

Different kinds of chemotherapy drugs may cause cardiac toxicity.

Anthracyclines that are used to treat leukemia, breast cancer, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma are most commonly associated with cardiac toxicity. These drugs include:

  • Daunorubicin (Cerubidine®)
  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin®)
  • Doxorubicin liposome injection (Doxil®)
  • Epirubicin (Ellence®)
  • Idarubicin (Idamycin® PFS)
  • Valrubicin (Valstar®)

Other chemotherapy drugs that may cause cardiac toxicity include:

  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • Mitoxantrone (Novantrone®)
  • Arsenic trioxide (Trisenox®)
  • Denileukin diftitox (Ontak®)
  • Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (Mylotarg®)
  • Melphalan (Alkeran®)
  • Paclitaxel (Taxol®)

The risk of cardiac toxicity from chemotherapy drugs decreases as the amount of the medication decreases. While it is essential to provide you with a chemotherapy dose that is effective in treating your cancer, it is just as important not to provide you with an overdose of any of these chemotherapy drugs that could damage your heart unnecessarily.

Diagnosing and Treating Cardiac Toxicity

If you experience unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, pain, discomfort when lying on your back, or swelling of your ankles, your doctor may order diagnostic tests to check your heart. These tests may include one or more of the following:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Echocardiogram
  • Multi Gated Acquisition Scan
  • Blood tests

Once your condition is diagnosed, treatment may begin.Your oncologist may stop or reduce your chemotherapy. Additionally, it is important to consult a cardiologist to discuss treatment options for your heart. Different medications such as diuretics, digitalis drugs, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers may be prescribed.

When to Contact a Chemotherapy Cardiac Toxicity Lawyer

Cardiac toxicity is a known side effect of some chemotherapy drugs. If your doctor explained the risks of cardiac toxicity to you, and you provided your informed consent to treatment, your heart problems may just be an unfortunate serious side effect of your chemotherapy.

However, if you received a chemotherapy overdose and your cardiac toxicity is related to the overdose, the doctor, nurse, or another person who caused your chemotherapy overdose may be liable for your cardiac toxicity and any other injuries you’ve suffered.

Our Kentucky chemotherapy overdose lawyers and staff nurse are committed to helping everyone who suffers a physical injury due to medical negligence receive the fair recovery they deserve. We will find out exactly why you are hurt and who caused your injury, and then we will fight for your fair and just recovery of medical expenses, lost income, out-of-pocket costs, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages.

Contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible. The Kentucky statute of limitations gives you just one year to file your claim. Therefore, you must get started as quickly as possible.

Matthew L. White
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Founder & Partner of Louisville Personal Injury Law Firm Gray & White Law