Berlin: Survivors of childhood cancer are at risk of suffering from cardiovascular disease in adulthood, a study has found. Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany found that as adults these people were at risk of having high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia (abnormal, usually high, levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood).
These conditions occurred six and eight years earlier respectively when compared with the general population, they said.
In addition, childhood cancer survivors had a nearly two-fold increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as congestive heart failure and venous thromboembolism.
Cardiovascular disease was found in 4.5 per cent of survivors and occurred in the majority before they reached the age of 40, nearly eight years earlier than in the general population, according to the study published in the European Heart Journal. Between October 2013 and February 2016, a total of 951 adult long-term survivors of childhood cancer underwent a clinical examination that included assessing factors that might put them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia.
The researchers also checked their medical history, whether or not they smoked and whether there was any family history of cardiovascular disease.
Their ages ranged from 23 to 48 at the time of this follow-up. The results were compared with over 15,000 people selected from the general population. “Our results show that these survivors of childhood cancer have a substantially elevated burden of prematurely occurring traditional cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular diseases,” said Professor Joerg Faber from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.
High blood pressure and dyslipidaemia were the most common cardiovascular risk factors identified in the childhood cancer survivors, 23 per cent and 28 per cent respectively, whereas diabetes was only found in two per cent.
These conditions occurred earlier than in the general population; 17 per cent and 25 per cent had high blood pressure or dyslipidaemia respectively before the age of 30, and 39 per cent and 38 per cent by the age of 45.
These findings showed that survivors of childhood cancer have a considerably greater risk of cardiovascular disease – a risk that continued to increase with age rather than levelling off – and this meant that, in the longer term, they may be more likely to die earlier than the general population.