Breast cancer drugs and cardiovascular health

Anne BlaesAlthough certain chemotherapy drugs can slow or stop the growth of breast cancer, these drugs can be toxic to heart muscle and might also affect long-term vascular health.

Eastern Star Scholar and director of the U’s Cancer Survivorship Program, Anne Blaes, M.D., is looking at the short- and long-term impacts of these drugs by analyzing data from two vascular studies and exploring opportunities for future studies with colleagues at Mayo Clinic.

Blaes is also exploring ways to improve patient awareness of the link between cancer drugs and cardiovascular health.

Already, the U is implementing education programs that keep survivors informed about their health. For example, there is now a special breakout session on heart health at the U’s annual Cancer Survivorship Conference.

Meanwhile, Blaes notes that breast cancer survivors should do whatever else they can to optimize heart health: don’t smoke, maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol level, and get 150 minutes of exercise every week.

“Support from the Order of the Eastern Star has helped to launch my research career in cancer survivorship, particularly cardiac health in cancer survivors. I am incredibly grateful for this ongoing commitment.”

Blaes, an Eastern Star Scholar since 2010, says the scholars program set her up for success. As a result, she's achieved the following:

  • Received multiple years of support from the National Institutes of Health Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health (BIRCWH) award
  • Served as a co-investigator on three other national grants
  • Joined two national working groups on cardiac health in oncology patients
  • Authored more than 10 publications in the last year

Blaes also received teaching and clinical excellence awards from the U’s medical school and multiple best doctor accolades from Minnesota Monthly.


Anne Blaes
While chemotherapy drugs can slow or stop the growth of cancer, they can also cause adverse health impacts in cancer survivors.
Beshay Zordoky
While advanced therapies have improved cancer survival rates, many of these medications can lead to cardiovascular disease later in life.