Updated: Monday, 22 Oct 2012, 4:25 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 19 Oct 2012, 6:15 PM EDT
FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) -- The strong link between heart disease and breast cancer is the focus of a UConn study.
A M-R-I shows the image of a breast cancer patient's heart.
"The chemotherapy can affect your heart in a way that it becomes weak," Dr. Erick Avelar, from UConn Health Center, said.
Cardiologist Dr. Erick Avelar says that's the reality for cancer patients. His study at UConn Health Center focuses on the link between chemotherapy and heart disease in patients with breast cancer.
"Surprisingly we don't have guidelines for detection of treatment to protect those patients," Dr. Avelar said.
"I had no idea that chemotherapy would have anything or any negatives towards the heart," Tarsha Zenit said.
Tarsha Zenit is taking part in the research.
"I just wanted to do anything possible for myself and for everybody else to make sure down the line, we can have more knowledge," Zenit said.
Close monitoring of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients through MRI images and bio-markers have yielded early results.
"By MRI evaluation of those hearts, the heart is getting somewhat bigger," Dr. Avelar said.
But Dr. Avelar points out, it's too soon to tell if that will have a direct impact. The challenge he says is how to measure the likelihood of developing symptoms of heart failure 'after' chemotherapy.
"If you don't really know what's the baseline response as you pointed out, then we won't be able to intervene," Dr. Avelar said.
"You can decrease the dosage of the chemo agent, you could also switch to a different chemo agent and finally if those patients really need to be on the cancer treatment, and that's the number one priority, then we can start heart failure treatment and keep the agent."