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heart problem related to chemotherapy

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2007

Does anyone else have heart related problems for taking adriamycin? I just found out that it damaged my heart. I was put on Coreg. my heart is only functioning at 35 to 40%.

Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006


The easiest way to locate other members with similar xperiences is to type keywords (such as "heart," "adriamycin," etc.) on the search bar at the top of the home page. You can refine your search by clicking on the different categories of content listed below the list of keyword matches that you get from your search. The major categories of content on CSN are discussion boards, personal web pages, etc. For example, if you are looking for a personal web page, you can limit your search to personal web pages only by clicking on the "personal web pages" category. Remember that you must be logged in if you want to post anything on a discussion boards, view personal web pages, use the chat room, etc.

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I wish you the very best on your treatment,

Take care and be well,

CSN Dana

Posts: 208
Joined: May 2007

I lost about 16% function, but I had a really high ejection rate (76) when I started. I do have shortness of breath now and then but that seems to have come when I fell off of routine excercise during the last few weeks of chemo. I believe that above 50 its still a "safe zone", but I'm nervous about having a recurrance and needing more chemo - I's stage IIIc. Did your docs give you any guidelines or excercises to do?

Posts: 45
Joined: Apr 2003

yes i have had a heart condition for nearly all my life and I believe (as far as I know) it was because of adriamycin. I used to take Coreg but now im on another heart medication.

blueroses's picture
Posts: 527
Joined: Jul 2008

Oh ya I have heart damage from the drug for sure. I noticed it years back after my first round of chemo for nhl by just, at first, a few skipped beats that I never had prior to treatment. After they did the bone marrow transplant on recurrance it got worse but not until the last 8 years has it really gotten bad. They said it is atrial fibrulation but over the years after seeing several cardiologists there is no straight answer as to what kind of arythmia, tachacardia, bradycardia, sick sinus syndrome, everyone seems to have a different indea. My symptoms are bad now and restrict me. I get 'near fainting' fairly often and it happened recently when I was out so that scared me alot. I live alone so I got Lifeline in case something happens while I am alone. When it hits me I get what I call 'a headrush from hell' and immediately feel as if I am going to faint and have to sit down right away. My heart starts to act up and this can last from minutes to hours over and over. Sometimes I am afraid to go out now in fear it will happen again. A cardiologist in the last 2 years has admited to it being called 'adriamycin induced cardiomyopathy' which is the first time one of them actually labelled it damage from the drug. Lots of cardiologists though are leary of labelling treatment as an issue in damage, it's getting there but slowly. Very frustrating. There is also a reluctance to say that atrial fib. can lead to heart attacks and while they say that it doesn't 'usually' lead to heart attacks it certainly can I have found if conditions are right. Stroke can be caused by atrial fib and heart attacks I have now heard do occur sometimes from atrial fib as well. I don't know why the medical community is so unwilling to acknowledge this at times.

You aren't alone.

Posts: 7
Joined: Sep 2008

I too have suffered problems from adriamycin. One side effect was extremely high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. After 5 years and many different drugs the doctors finaly found one that lowered it, but I had TIA's anyway. They had to open my corraded artery and scrape it out. Because I was having trouble getting my blood pressure meds regularly (because insurance didn't want to pay or the nurse screwed up calling it in), I decided to stop taking them and am now using an over the counter supplement called Co Q-10. I found out about it in a holistic healing book. The book says that Co Q-10 is what adriamycin strips from our body and thats why we end up with the heart damage. I bought myself a bottle of 55, 50mg for $10 and take 2 a day. I am happy to say that within the first week my blood pressure came down to 117 over 78, pefect. I also notice my leg cramps are almost completely gone and my energy level is up, way up. I just feel better all over! I just wish I had known about this supplement when I was getting treatment. Maybe the damage could have been avoided had I taken it while having treatment. I have yet to meet a doctor that will even discuss homeopathy with me and am tierd of being their ginny pig so have taken it upon myself to do research and find what works best for. So far so good. I also find yoga to be beneficial, especialy with the back and muscle pain. Hope I've been helpful. Good luck to you.

Posts: 9
Joined: Jan 2009

Beachgypsy and all:
I too have been singing the adriamycin blues. I recieved 150 mg IV push along with 1000mg cytoxan drip back when I was 18. It is now some 30 years hence and I find that The side effects have been creeping up on me. During this process I have learned that I lost some 12% of my lung capacity. The cardio effects have been increasing irregularities (especially super tachyocardia) and a combination of Pre atrial and pre ventriculer contractions and at least a perception that my heart is not as strong as it once was.
I had a procedure called ablation where they cut a nerve inside your heart, which geatly reduced the racing. The irregularities are not bad enough to warrent medication yet. (Something I want to avoid!) If you had heavy rediation you may want to re-consider because you get a good shot of it in this procedure. I have had positive results form the following:

-- Fish oil: the one I take has Co-Q-10 as well, an anti-oxidant which tagrets your heart muscle. the fish oil has some benifits, some researched, some less so. But I recommend considering it. Do some research. At least one other indvidual on this site has had some benifit from the Co-Q-10. I noticed dramiticaly less heart irregularities one week after taking this stuff.

-- L-Arginine: An amino acid that promotes flexability of your blood vessels. My blood pressure was becoming an issue but it is now great: 105/68. I also think that more flexible blood vessels act as a shock absorber. When these irregularities would strike they would roll through my body. (Nothin' like the old ticker acting up to remember your mortality!) Now they are much less noticable.

-- A good multi-vitamin (with no Iron). Sort of an insurance policy that you are getting what you need. This needs some research on your part. Watch the calcium, No iron, but yes to the B vitamins and magnesium, which are heart healthy.

Hope this helps. bear in mind that my problems are no where near some of the others here.

I would love to hear from others on stratagies managing this! As always, sorry for the miss-spellings. (Chemo-brain??!!)

Keep your chin up! let us know how you are doing!

blueroses's picture
Posts: 527
Joined: Jul 2008

I saw that you had ablation surgery and I am heading in that direction. How did you find the surgery? I hear there are no guarantees as to whether it will work or not. They have me on a whack of medications to control the afib and I am starting to not tolerate them very well so starting to think about ablation again. Not too excited about the possibility of dieing in the procedure as I had to make that decision in the life and death bone marrow transplant I had 20 years ago. Would be to hear any info on ablation? I know the procedure just wondered how you found it all. Thanks. Blueroses.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2009

I too had a bad experience with adriamycin and even had to perform angioplasty once..

bluerose's picture
Posts: 1112
Joined: Jul 2009

The damage from the adriamycin got so bad that I had a really bad attack and headrushes from hell in 2005 and had to have a pacemaker inserted. REally made a huge difference but slowly over the years after the implant I have had to have more drugs on top of the pacemaker and still get bad episodes but not as bad as before where it was daily. I have been in many ambulances for the arythmia caused by adriamycin and landed in The Heart Institute once here where they did a whole going over of all my meds and pacemaker and with the adjustments I am doing better.

I have lately developed profuse sweating from my face and head - dripping sweat - and I am getting doctors telling me that my blood pressure is a bit high on a regular basis so since the sweating is sooooooooooooo bad and debillitating I will be seeing my cardiologist tomorrow for a going over of my heart and blood pressure situation to make sure nothing else is wrong. The fun never ends. lol. All the best with the side effects of adriamycin. The docs know now that it does this kind of damage and not sure if they are still using it now or just monitoring it during treatments closer with PET scans. Take care. Blessings, Bluerose

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