Higher risk of cardiovascular diseases in women with a history of breast cancer

April 2022 Science Nalinee Pandey

A recent study has reported that women that have survived breast cancer are at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and mortality than those without a history of breast cancer. The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Study details

Between 2005 and 2013, the study analysed data from 13,642 women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. It was matched 1:5 on birth year and race/ethnicity with data from 68,202 control women without breast cancer. The study population comprised the Kaiser Permanente Northern California members. Data such as cancer treatment, outcomes of cardiovascular disease, and covariate data were obtained from electronic health records.

Key findings

After a follow-up of 7 years (range = 1–14 years), breast cancer patients who received anthracycline without anthracyclines without trastuzumab (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.84, 95% confidence interval [CI] =1.21–2.80) or trastuzumab without anthracyclines (HR = 2.53, 95% CI = 1.33–4.81) had an increased risk of cardiomyopathy/heart disease than the control population. Notably, the highest risk of heart failure and or cardiomyopathy was seen in breast cancer patients who received anthracyclines and trastuzumab (HR = 3.68, 95% CI = 1.79–7.59). Women with breast cancer who received any radiation therapy (HR = 1.38, 95% CI = 1.13–1.69) and aromatase inhibitors (HR = 1.31, 95% CI = 1.07–1.60) also had an increased risk of heart failure/cardiomyopathy versus controls.

In addition to the risk of heart diseases, elevated risk of stroke, arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, venous thromboembolic disease, CVD-related death, and death were also seen in women with breast cancer depending on the kind of cancer treatment received.


The study’s findings demonstrate that women with breast cancer experienced higher incidences of cardiovascular diseases. Future studies are needed to determine how cardiovascular disease outcomes can be managed in women with breast cancer.


Greenlee H, Iribarren C, Rana JS, Cheng R, et al. Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women With and Without Breast Cancer: The Pathways Heart Study. J Clin Oncol. 2022 Apr 6:JCO2101736. doi: 10.1200/JCO.21.01736. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35385342.