Newswise — ORLANDO, Fla. (August 6, 2014)--- Hearts are at risk when fighting against breast cancer – due to toxic side effects of common treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Depending on age and other factors, up to 30 percent of patients receiving chemo therapy or radiation therapy may develop heart damage related to treatment. Orlando Health Heart Institute and UF Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health have developed a new Cardio-Oncology Program to help keep hearts beating strong throughout breast cancer treatments.

The program is made up of a multidisciplinary team including cardiologists, oncologists, advanced nurse practitioners, and other clinicians, working together to protect hearts.

With the program, clinicians evaluate patients prior to receiving treatment for a baseline assessment of their hearts. The baseline helps cardiologists detect changes as they monitor patients throughout the course of cancer treatments. Testing before, during, and after cancer treatments may include echocardiograms, blood tests, and other diagnostics to show markers and indications that a person has heart damage, or is at high risk to develop heart problems. If heart damage is detected, or risk factors are determined, cardiologists and oncologists work together to adjust cancer treatments, or prescribe heart medications. The changes may prevent heart damage, reverse damage, or help stop the damage from getting worse.

Heart problems resulting from cancer treatments include cardiomyopathy – a disease that weakens and enlarges the heart muscle. As the condition worsens it can lead to heart failure or irregular heartbeats. Other potential cardiac conditions include heart attack, arterial valve problems, and damage to the heart membrane.

The program is beginning with a focus on patients being treated for breast cancer who receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy on the left side of their chest. There are future plans to expand the program to help patients with other cancers.###

About Orlando Health Orlando Health is a $1.9 billion not-for-profit health care organization and a community-based network of physician practices, hospitals and care centers throughout Central Florida.

The organization, which includes Physician Associates, one of the largest multi-specialty practices in central Florida, and the area’s only Level One Trauma Centers for adults and pediatrics, is a statutory teaching hospital system that offers both specialty and community hospitals. They are: Orlando Regional Medical Center; Dr. P. Phillips Hospital; South Seminole Hospital; Health Central Hospital, the Arnold Palmer Medical Center, which consists of Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women & Babies; the UF Health Cancer Center – Orlando Health, South Lake Hospital (50 percent affiliation); and St. Cloud Regional Medical Center (20 percent affiliation). Areas of clinical excellence are heart and vascular, cancer care, neurosciences, surgery, pediatric orthopedics and sports medicine, neonatology, and women’s health.

Orlando Health is one of Central Florida’s largest employers with more than 15,000 employees and nearly 3,000 physicians supporting our philosophy of providing high quality care and service that revolves around patients’ needs. We prove this everyday with over 100,000 inpatient admissions and nearly 900,000 outpatient visits each year. In all, Orlando Health serves 1.8 million Central Florida residents and more than 4,500 international patients annually. Additionally, Orlando Health provides more than $289 million in support of community health needs. More information can be found at