Northside launches new program to address heart health in cancer patients

The new Cardio-Oncology Program at Northside Hospital is dedicated to improving overall cancer care and lowering a patient’s risk of possible cardiac (heart) complications during cancer treatment

“The presence of underlying risk factors and oncological treatment-related effects places the already vulnerable cancer patient population at a heightened cardiovascular risk,” said Dr. Lalitha C. Medepalli, noninvasive cardiologist and chair of the cardio-oncology task force at Northside Hospital. “Cardiovascular morbidity is highest amongst breast, prostate and other aggressive cancer subtypes, as well as cancer survivors diagnosed before age 55.” 

The Cardio-Oncology Program is a joint initiative between Northside Hospital Heart Institute and Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. The program is built on cardio-oncology best practices and the latest evidence-based care for cancer patients. 

“With advances in cancer care through early detection, improved therapeutics and supportive care, cancer patients are living longer – 65% of cancer patients are now living more than five years from their cancer diagnosis and 45% more than 10 years,” said Dr. Cheryl Jones, medical oncologist with Georgia Cancer Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. “Despite these improved outcomes, the cancer therapies often place patients at increased risk for cardiovascular complications of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, coronary disease, arrhythmia, and heart failure.” 

With 14 cardio-oncologists, Northside offers cardio-oncology services at all five Northside hospitals and multiple additional outpatient locations across Georgia. Services include:

  • Optimization of risk factors prior to cancer treatment.
  • Care for cancer patients with heart disease.
  • Advanced echocardiography and cardiovascular imaging.
  • Blood testing to look at the health of your heart muscle.
  • Monitoring for heart complications during cancer therapies.
  • Assessment of long-term heart risk in cancer survivors.
  • Managing heart-related side effects of chemotherapy treatments. 

Patients also benefit from a dedicated nurse navigator to coordinate their care throughout the program, as well as Atlanta’s first board-certified cardio-oncologist. 

Dr. Medepalli is the first physician in the Atlanta region and just the second in Georgia to receive board certification in cardio-oncology from the International Cardio-Oncology Society

According to Dr. Medepalli, the new Cardio-Oncology Program further embodies Northside’s commitment to offer excellence at heart “by increasing awareness amongst our referring physicians, systematic risk stratification of our at-risk patients, vigilant surveillance using advanced cardiovascular imaging modalities, and customized patient-centered care taking into account specific oncological histories.” 

“The early intervention of a cardio-oncologist to reduce the acute cardiac impact of cancer therapies permits cancer patients to receive maximum benefit from their prescribed treatments and also reduces the potential future development of late cardiac complications,” Dr. Jones added. 

“I am excited to offer my cancer patients a comprehensive community cancer program that doesn’t just address the immediate need for a surgical, medical and radiation treatment, but also offers a plan and hope for future survivorship by incorporating multi-disciplinary specialty of cardio-oncology, nutrition, wellness and survivorship program.” 

Referring physicians can request a consultation with the Cardio-Oncology Program by calling the nurse navigator at 404-263-2753. 

Learn more about the Cardio-Oncology Program at Northside Hospital and find a cardio-oncology provider.


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