For cancer patients, it is common to have hypertension (high blood pressure). The significance of adequately diagnosing and controlling hypertension in cancer patients arises from the fact that some cancer therapies, including certain types of targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, may exhibit potential adverse effects on the cardiac system and put the cardiovascular health at risk.
A rise in blood pressure during cancer treatment requires prudent clinical assessment. Poorly controlled hypertension may considerably influence cancer treatment and even result in discontinuation of certain therapies. Let us understand how hypertension is related to cancer therapy and how you can manage it!
- What is hypertension and its symptoms?
- Association between hypertension and cancer therapy
- Lifestyle interventions to manage hypertension in cancer patients
- Management of hypertension in cancer patients
What is hypertension and its symptoms?
Hypertension is a dangerous condition in which the blood pressure increases too much. The blood moves through the arteries at a higher pressure and may damage the heart, arteries, and other vital organs of the body. A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mm Hg and if it is 130/80 mm Hg or greater, then a person is hypertensive.
Symptoms of hypertension include chest pain, irregular and abnormal heart rhythm, nosebleed, confusion, difficulty in breathing, fatigue, vision problems, blood in the urine, and pounding sensation in the chest, neck or ears, and intense headache
Association between hypertension and cancer therapy
Hypertension or deterioration in the control of hypertension is commonly witnessed in cancer patients.
Cancer therapy is an independent risk factor for hypertension due to direct effects on endothelial function, renin-angiotensin system activity, increased formation of endothelin-1 (an agent that causes narrowing of blood vessels), decreased capillary density, and impaired sympathetic activity (raised sympathetic nervous system activity has been implicated as a primary precursor of hypertension).
Some cancer therapies mediate the development of hypertension through increased salt sensitivity and kidney toxicity (nephrotoxicity).
Lifestyle interventions to manage hypertension in cancer patients
Heart problems are commonly encountered in cancer patients. However, small steps can add up to big changes. Read the below healthy lifestyle interventions that may aid to keep your blood pressure in a healthy and normal range.
- Minimize the amount of salt/sodium in your diet as excessive salt intake may increase blood pressure.
- A sedentary lifestyle is linked with high blood pressure. Be physically active and stay fit. Lose a few pounds of your weight by exercising regularly.
- Smoking is a risk factor for cancer and also hypertension. So, quit smoking!
- Abstain from drinking excessive alcohol as it can lead to hypertension. Alcohol consumption is also linked with the risk of cancer.
- Relieve stress since the stress hormones can lead to constriction of the blood vessels and cause temporary spikes in blood pressure.Try meditation, deep breathing sessions, yoga, and other relaxation techniques. Yoga yields strength and other benefits to cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment.
- Avoid excessive caffeine consumption as a high intake of caffeine may lead to a drastic rise in blood pressure.
- Overweight people are at higher risk of getting hypertension. Watch added sugars in your diet since sugar contributes to weight gain.
- Avoid high-fat diet as they put immense pressure on the blood vessels and may trigger hypertension.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, the fruits and green leafy vegetables (super anti-cancer foods) can help to check the surge in blood pressure levels.
Management of hypertension in cancer patients
Individualized monitoring and treatment of hypertension in cancer patients is of paramount importance as concomitant hypertension in individuals receiving treatment for cancer is very common. Cancer patients who have hypertension should:
- Communicate their past medical history to their healthcare provider
- Undergo screening tests to aid clinicians supervise heart disease and other concerns
- Be meticulous about checkups and routine blood pressure testing
- Strive to bring the blood pressure down to a normal range
- Take steps to improve their overall health
- Take medication as prescribed by the doctor to mitigate the danger of high blood pressure.
For cancer patients having hypertension, the aim should be to lower the risk of end-organ damage and to facilitate the continuation of cancer therapy. To avoid long-term complications, the blood pressure should be actively and accurately monitored throughout the period of cancer management.
When planning cancer treatment, oncologists should cautiously monitor antihypertensive medications. This is because some cancer therapeutics may also interact with heart medications. For optimal management, attention should be given to the choice of antihypertensive medication.
With early diagnosis and appropriate control of hypertension, individuals having tumors can tolerate the maximum doses of the planned chemotherapeutic drugs. This will offer improved management of cancer without any potential injury to the target organs.
Hypertension is a common comorbidity encountered in cancer patients. It is, therefore, crucial to get your blood pressure checked and to be familiar with the signs of raised blood pressure.
Monitor your blood pressure regularly because if left untreated, hypertension may subsequently lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, heart disease, peripheral arterial disease, atrial fibrillation, renal impairment, and other health problems. Visit your oncologist for regular check ups.
Also, read Anemia: A common problem in cancer patients