Heart Failure Long After Chemotherapy. - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Heart Failure Long After Chemotherapy.


Hi, I am a new member on here and wondered if anyone else has developed heart failure following chemo treatment for cancer? I first had cancer 10 years ago and had FEC chemo. No problems (apart from recurrence which is another story!) However, a couple of years ago I began to get breathlessness and was diagnosed with with severe heart failure in December 16 aged 48. They don't know what caused it but the best guess by consultant was the chemo almost 9 years previously. My oncologist, on the other hand, maintains that the chemo could not cause heart failure. Seems to be a grey area and rather under-researched/misunderstood. Anyone else experienced heart failure after chemo?

10 Replies

Hi, there is a closed facebook group called pumping marvellous & there are a number of members who have heart failure caused by chemo. I recommend joining the group, it's a patient led charity for HF patients, their families & carers & the support & advice from the group amazing xx

Aqua68 in reply to Lezzers

Thanks Lezzers!

Hi. I had severe heart failure in December. I had heavy duty chemo in 2009 resulting in stem cell treatment. No one seemed to know why I had heart failure but one doctor suggested it in a dismissive manner. Since then I hv seen several posts linking chemo and HF in a anecdotal way. I when there seems no other answer why rule out the delayed effects of chemo.

Hi - I had chemotherapy treatment after being diagnosed with breast cancer nearly 14 years ago. Had a radical mastectomy with all lymph nodes removed. The lump had not spread anywhere, no lymph nodes were infected so I do wonder if such drastic action was required. I was diagnosed with HF 12 yrs later and the general consensus appears to be the chemotherapy has caused it - or a virus as my immune system was shot to pieces for years post chemo.

Yes, I had both heavy chemo and radiotherapy 33 years ago for Hodgkin’s disease. The initial presentation of the Hodgkin’s was enlarged lymph nodes in my heart, and I had 2 stays in a CCU with severe arrhythmia before the Hodgkin’s was diagnosed.

I had my HA 8 weeks ago and have heart failure. The consensus is that I had residual damage from the Hodgkin’s and it’s treatment, don’t know if physically caused by the nodes or the chemo/radio or a combination of.

All the best


Aqua68 in reply to gmkilly

Thanks for the comment, Gary. There certainly seems to be a connection between chemo and heart damage/failure sometimes a very long time afterwards. Hope you are doing OK. It's very hard to get your head round it all at first.

lifelover55 in reply to gmkilly

Hi Gary. I'm Kim. I just wanted to say hello because we have some medical history in common. I had radiation treatment for Hodgkins (next to my windpipe under my breast) 24 years ago and 7 years ago was diagnosed with breast cancer that spread to my lymph nodes. I had chemo for the breast cancer. I recently had an aortic valve replacement and mitral valve repair but I was born with valve defects so in my case, there didn't seem to be any radiation or chemo involvement in the progression of my disease. I'm not sure they know for sure. In any event, the radiation had caused fibrosis to the skin on my chest making the incision for open heart surgery difficult for the surgeons. Gary, I wish you all the best and hope you are feeling better soon.

Kim/Aqua thank you both. I’m doing well. If I hadn’t had the chemo etc I’d be long since dead. I’ve had 30+ wonderful years to see my 3 daughters grow into beautiful women, marry and have their own kids. I’ve got a lot be thankful for. HF is something new to manage and work around, that’s all! Take care


hi, my mum had breast cancer in 1997 and last year she was diagnosed with heart failure, even she was told because of radiotherapy she got heart failure problem, also she had pneumonia last year. I have been looking after her, just wondered who has heart failure if they keep getting pleural effusion too? and have they got some pacemaker inserted?

Hi daljit21, sorry to hear about your mum. I was also told that the HF could have been caused by radiation, but more likely to be chemo. That said, my cardiologist told me early this year that it was not likely that chemo caused it because my heart was not scarred or something like that. Most likely cause then was a virus. From 1997 to 2019 seems a very long time for your mum to be affected by the radiation. I don't have pleural effusion though, so I can't comment on that issue. Hope you get some answers.

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