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Cancer patients should have exercise prescription for heart

Monday October 7th, 2019

Cancer patients should be prescribed a personalised exercise prescription to help protect their hearts, a new report published today has claimed.

The Italian study, in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, says physical activity before, during and after cancer treatment can counteract the negative effects of therapies on the cardiovascular system.

Dr Flavio D’Ascenzi, of the University of Siena, said cardiovascular diseases are common side effects in patients with cancer due to cardiotoxicity.

Cancer patients are often less active than adults without cancer, but that exercise is essential for patients diagnosed with and being treated for cancer, irrespective of the type of treatment, he said.

This latest paper suggests that an individual exercise plan, taking into account personal history, cancer treatment, response to exercise, and personal preferences, should be completed even before starting treatment such as chemotherapy.

“Endurance training is more effective for improving cardiovascular performance and reducing inflammation, but resistance training may be a better starting point for frail cancer patients, "said Dr D’Ascenzi.

“Other types of exercise, such as inspiratory muscle training, are safe and effective, particularly in those with thoracic cancer; therefore, the specific exercise should be chosen based on individual characteristics.”

Dr D’Ascenzi said the exercise prescription should involve a multidisciplinary team, including oncologists, cardiologists, physical therapists, nurses, nutritionists, and psychologists.

The starting point should be cardiac evaluation, with exercise testing to determine response to exercise.

“Defining the intensity and volume of exercise is important for maximising the benefits of physical activity while avoiding muscular soreness, fatigue, and sleep disorders,” he added.

D’Ascenzi F, Anselmi F, Fiorentini C, et al. The benefits of exercise in cancer patients and the criteria for exercise prescription in cardio-oncology. Eur J Prev Cardiol 7 October 2019; doi:10.1177/2047487319874900.

Tags: Cancer | Europe | Fitness | Heart Health

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