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Exercise to prevent heart and vascular damage from cancer treatments
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Exercise to prevent heart and vascular damage from cancer treatments

Dr Erin Howden, Institution: Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute

2019 Future Leader Fellowship

Years funded: 2020-2023


Survivors of cancers have significantly elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Contributing factors include the direct effect of cancer, cardiotoxic therapies and physical deconditioning. These insults are particularly detrimental to the heart, but effects are also observed in the vasculature, skeletal muscle and blood cells.

Exercise has the potential to protect cancer patients from toxic therapies. We propose that in addition to preventing deconditioning, exercise could counter the direct effects of cancer and cancer therapies, thus providing cardiovascular protection. In this series of studies I will seek to evaluate the efficacy of exercise to prevent cardiovascular dysfunction in different patient groups receiving cardiotoxic cancer therapies.

I will also seek to explore the physiological effects of exercise by probing the mechanisms associated with improved cardiovascular health. Importantly the targeted exercise interventions have been informed by my prior work which has found that exercise has beneficial effects in different clinical populations. It is expected that the findings from these series of studies will provide robust evidence to support the routine inclusion of exercise for patients receiving cancer therapies to reduce their likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.

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