Prostate cancer and heart diseaseReviewed by: Scott Bauer MD, Thomas A Farrington, Stephen Freedland MD, Darryl Leong MBBS PhD(16th Aug 2021)
There’s a lot you can do to stay heart healthy after a prostate cancer diagnosis—and improve your quality of life, too. Protecting your heart health may be more important than you realize. Keep an eye on your heart, so you can enjoy more of life.
Why heart disease matters to you as a man with prostate cancer.
What puts you at risk for heart disease—including high blood pressure and diabetes.
How you can take charge—starting with a health check-up.
What important information to share with your doctor.
Read on and learn:
Why do I need to pay attention to my heart health when I have prostate cancer?
It may be surprising, but many factors that increase your chances of developing heart disease are also common in men with prostate cancer. This means, as a man with prostate cancer, you are likely at a higher risk of suffering from conditions like heart attacks, strokes, and other types of heart disease.
Your risk of developing heart disease may also be increased by some common treatments for prostate cancer. It's a good idea to talk to your prostate cancer doctor about your heart health when you start a new treatment.
What are some of the risk factors for heart disease?
Some things that increase your risk of developing heart disease can't be changed—like being older, Black, or having a family history of heart disease.
On the other hand, there are risk factors you definitely can control. These include health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.
Risks you can work on, and it’ll really pay off:
When the pressure of your blood in your arteries is too high, it can affect your heart, kidneys, and other organs. You may not know you have high blood pressure, so getting it checked regularly is important. You can measure your blood pressure using a public machine at a drugstore, but make sure to have it checked by a healthcare professional, too, for the most accurate result. You can lower high blood pressure with lifestyle changes or medications. Lifestyle changes include a healthier diet, losing weight (if you are overweight), and getting enough exercise.
Too much cholesterol in your blood can build up in your arteries and reduce blood flow to your heart and other organs. You can lower cholesterol with lifestyle changes or medications. Lifestyle changes include having a healthier diet, losing weight (if you are overweight) and getting enough exercise.
People with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease than people without diabetes. Managing diabetes with the help of your doctor, staying active, eating healthy, losing weight (if you are overweight), and taking your medications are crucial to your heart health.
Being inactive can increase your risk of heart disease. Physical activity and regular exercise, especially when you work up a sweat, can help keep your weight healthy, lower blood pressure, manage diabetes, and more.
Eating too much salt, sugar and processed meats can increase your risk of heart disease and conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Eating healthy foods has many benefits and can still taste delicious.
Carrying too much weight puts stress on your heart and can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. Keeping extra pounds off will make things easier on your heart.
Smoking can damage your heart and your blood vessels and increase your blood pressure. Quitting is possible, and there are many different programs and approaches that can get you on the right track.
What are some things I can do to take charge?
Talk to your doctor
To minimise the risk of heart disease due to prostate cancer, during and after treatment for prostate cancer, work with a doctor to stay heart-healthy. Getting a heart check-up is one of the best things you can do.
Your doctor can provide specific advice, based on your medical history and treatment, that can help you decrease your risk of heart disease.
Call your primary care doctor and schedule an appointment to talk about your heart health.
At your next prostate cancer treatment check-up, tell your oncologist or urologist you want to talk about your heart health and the possibility of developing heart disease due to prostate cancer. If you know you have a heart condition or any of the risk factors on this page, make sure your prostate cancer doctor is aware.
Read our tips below about information you can bring to your doctor for an extra productive visit.
Take your medications on time
Make sure you’re taking all your medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other medications related to your heart health as recommended by your doctor.
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about your medications.
Use a pill box or calendar to keep track of the days and times for each prescription.
Have a heart-healthy diet
Eating healthier can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Avoid cookies, chips, and sweets. Choose healthy snacks like fresh fruits and vegetables, or unsalted nuts.
Enjoy cool sparkling or still water instead of sugary drinks or alcohol.
Plan heart-healthy meals with your partner, spouse, or family—change is easier together.
Exercise lowers high blood pressure, helps with your weight, can help you quit smoking, and more.
Take a brisk (fast-paced) walk for at least 30 minutes daily. Try going after dinner with friends or family and get your heart pumping, or even after lunch to perk you up.
Add some extra movement to your day: play music while cleaning up around the house, dance to some old school jams, and work up a sweat.
Giving up smoking takes work, but you don't have to do this alone.
Use these helpful tips and tools. You can try apps, texting programs, or whatever works for you.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help on how to quit.
How can I manage my heart health during prostate cancer treatment?
Schedule an appointment with your regular doctor to talk specifically about your heart health. Make sure they know about your prostate cancer diagnosis.
Don’t have a doc? Setting up a new appointment with a primary care doctor is a great place to start. If you can, take a loved one along to your appointment—they can be another pair of ears, take notes and help you feel supported.
Your urologist and oncologist will be most focused on your prostate cancer care. You can also ask them about your heart health and how your cancer treatment may impact your heart. When starting a new treatment for cancer, ask your doctor how it will affect your heart disease risk.
What information can I take to my doctor’s appointment?
You'll get more out of your visit if you go prepared. Set aside some time to gather information about your cancer, general health and treatments, and questions you want to ask.
Read about the risks on this page and let your doctor know if you think they apply to you.
Plan to talk with your doctor about your prostate cancer treatment and how it may impact your heart.
If you have a couple of weeks before your visit, gather information about your current health, write it down, and bring it to your visit. For example:
- Check your blood pressure twice a week using a home machine or a public machine at a drugstore.
- Check your weight and think about how much you’ve weighed over the last couple of years.
- Make notes about how many times a week you exercise and how you like to stay active.
- Use a calorie tracker to understand more about your diet, if you’re trying to lose weight.