Cardiovascular Fitness and Health in Cancer

Cardiovascular Fitness and Health in Cancer

As part of Cancer Rehabilitation Awareness Week. 

Here at OneUp we have solutions to maintain you or your patients fitness using a range of our globally sourced equipment. 

Below is some information on Cardiovascular fitness in cancer patients and some solutions to keeping that fitness high during these Covid times.

Effects of treatment on Cardiovascular Health

In cancer,  a patients therapy most commonly involves modalities such as chemotherapy and radiation that are considered crucial in improving survival.

Despite its positive clinical effect, chemotherapy has been associated with debilitating side effects, such as muscle atrophy, cancer-related fatigue, and cardiotoxicity.

It has been observed that woman undergoing chemotherapy during breast cancer are associated to 31% impairment in cardiorespiratory fitness as measured by the VO2max. (Jones 2012)

This is a concern, given that emerging evidence suggests that cardiovascular fitness is a significant prognostic marker,  with quality of life, treatment-induced cardiotoxicity, and risk of cancer-related mortality. (Maginador 2020)

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To-maximal aerobic exercise

Research suggests that those suffering with cancer should be encouraged to perform vigorous aerobic training to prevent/treat chemotherapy-associated decreases in LVEF/Heart failure. (Maginador 2020)

Importantly, exercise protocols with doses of higher intensities have shown to develop stronger increases in VO2max when compared to moderate intensity protocols, regardless of training volume.(Milanovich 2015)

What about fatigue?

Well exercise intensity has been seen not to affect training adherence, and higher levels of physical fitness are associated with greater adherence and inversely associated with fatigue levels. (Maginador 2020


Home based exercise-options during covid 

Home based exercise interventions can provide a variety of benefits to cancer survivors during the rehabilitation phase. These include improvements in CRF, strength, level of physical activity, HRQOL, and body composition.

Batalik 2021 review shows that homes based exercise for cancer survivors could be prescribed as "aerobic exercise two to five times a week, 20 to 50 min per section at 11 to 14 RPE".

Although research supports the implementation of home based interventions in all groups of cancer patients and survivors, more extensive research is needed in this area to adequately determine the safety risk.

Thus exercise prescription should be consulted under the guidance of professionals ( ie Pink and Steel, Boost, Cancer Canopy Care), and intensity should be gradually increased dependent on the patients health and progression. 

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Jones, L.W.; Courneya, K.S.; Mackey, J.R.; Muss, H.B.; Pituskin, E.N.; Scott, J.M.; Hornsby, W.E.; Coan, A.D.; Herndon, J.E.; Douglas, P.S.; et al. Cardiopulmonary Function and Age-Related Decline Across the Breast Cancer Survivorship Continuum. J. Clin. Oncol. 2012, 30, 2530–2537.

Maginador G, Lixandrão ME, Bortolozo HI, Vechin FC, Sarian LO, Derchain S, Telles GD, Zopf E, Ugrinowitsch C, Conceição MS. Aerobic Exercise-Induced Changes in Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Breast Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Cancers. 2020; 12(8):2240.

Milanovi´c, Z.; Sporiš, G.; Weston, M. Effectiveness of High-Intensity Interval Training (HIT) and Continuous Endurance Training for VO2max Improvements: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. Sport. Med. 2015, 45, 1469–1481.

Batalik L, Winnige P, Dosbaba F, Vlazna D, Janikova A. Home-Based Aerobic and Resistance Exercise Interventions in Cancer Patients and Survivors: A Systematic Review. Cancers. 2021; 13(8):1915.


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