Use of echocardiography to evaluate the cardiac effects of therapies used in cancer treatment: what do we know?


Aurora Cardiovascular Services, Aurora Sinai/Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Centers, Aurora Advanced Healthcare


Cardiologists and oncologists today face the daunting challenge of identifying patients at risk for late-onset left ventricular (LV) systolic dysfunction from the use of various chemotherapeutic agents. Currently, the most widely used method in clinical practice for monitoring the potential of chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity is calculation of LV ejection fraction. The use of LV ejection fraction to determine whether to continue or discontinue the use of chemotherapeutic agents is limited, because decreases in LV ejection fraction frequently occur late and can be irreversible. These limitations have led to the exploration of diastolic function and newer modalities that assess myocardial mechanics to identify sensitive and specific variables that can predict the occurrence of late systolic function. The cancer therapies associated with cardiotoxicity are reviewed in this report. Additionally, the authors evaluate the role of present-day echocardiographic parameters, complementary noninvasive imaging modalities, and biomarkers in the prediction of cardiotoxicity. The authors address the evolving role of cardioprotective agents and potential therapies to prevent or reverse the progression of LV systolic dysfunction. Finally, they provide some ideas regarding future directions to enhance the knowledge of predicting late-onset LV systolic dysfunction secondary to cancer therapy.

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