Art of Aging: Main Line Health's Cardio-Oncology team

Cardiologists are teaming with oncologists to help patients not only beat cancer, but keep their heart healthy through the treatment and beyond.

Darryl Morgan is waging his second battle against lymphoma, but this long-time Chester County resident isn't putting life on hold.

He says, "I have 6 and a half acres to take care of, and that includes a horse. Feed him twice a day, and check on him once in a while."

Cancer treatments save lives, but some can affect the heart, too.

Certain chemotherapy drugs can raise blood pressure or weaken the heart muscle.

Cancer Specialist Dr. Michael Dabrow says, "You decrease the amount of blood that is extruded from the heart with each contraction."

Dr.Irv Herling, a cardiologist adds, "They can also increase the risk of heart attacks by affecting the circulation to the heart, the coronary arteries. They can thicken the blood which promotes clotting in the arteries."

Radiation can also weaken hearts, particularly in lung cancer and left-side breast cancer.

But, that's where cardiologist Irv Herling, and cancer specialist Michael Dabrow come in. They're part of Main Line Health's cardio-oncology team.

Dr. Herling says, "You have to monitor those patients closely. You have to understand the potential injury that is associated with the cancer."

Morgan got a thorough evaluation after his first lymphoma battle.

He said, "They told me that I've got the heart of a young man."

And he's being regularly monitored now.

"Generally, it's every 3 months," said Dr. Dabrow.

Less frequent checks will continue after treatment, because some drug effects last a long time.

Morgan is relieved to have the team watch over him now, and down the line.

"There's a million things that have to get done," he said.
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