Herceptin — Heart Damage, Heart Attacks and Breast Cancer

Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is a miracle drug but is well known to cause significant heart damage.  A new study was released recently that states heart damage is more significant than was thought previously.

http://www.cancernetwork.com/breast-cancer/content/article/10165/2100302

Unfortunately, I am someone who has suffered severe heart damage as a result of Herceptin.   I was only able to take it 3 months along with Taxol, then my Echocardiogram showed a significant drop.  My Ejection Fraction (EF) of my heart dropped from 65 which was great and I had a healthy heart to 39 during Herceptin and has not improved at all since ending chemo and Herceptin 4 months ago.   My Oncologist sent me to a Cardiologist immediately as he said my EF was “scarey low”.

My Cardiologist put me on two heart medicines for 2 months and did another Echo plus a Nuclear Stress Test.  The Echo did not improve and my cardiologist and the experts reading the Nuclear Stress Test said they think I suffered a silent heart attack.

Dr. Bach, my cardiologist asked me if I had any symptoms.  I had such a rough time through Chemo that heart attack symptoms would have not been noticeable to me.  I do remember my left arm going numb and shoulder pain.  Of course I thought it was related to chemo.

I promised my wonderful Cardiologist that I would call him if I had any heart attack or other heart symptoms.   I then promised I would throw out the Dollar Store aspirin that expired in 2002 that I kept next to my bed and replace it with fresh Bayer.  He laughed and thought that was a good idea.  The Bayer is now in my purse and next to my bed!

So how do I feel about all of this?  I am not sure. If the study about Herceptin and the risks of severe heart damage had come out several months earlier, would I have taken it?   If you suffered heart damage from Herceptin, please contact me at b4Denise@hotmail.com

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7 comments

  1. Gee, Denise, I am so sad to hear this has happened to you. It does sound like you have found a cardiologist that will be looking out for you well. One day at a time…that’s all I know how to face! But it helps make each one do-able! A little prayer coming your way for healing, Robin

  2. was diagnosed with breast cancer on May 17, 2012, which was HER2+, so I will be getting Herceptin, too. I start my chemo treatments on Sept. 27, but I ‘m concerned of the possible heart damage. But if I don’t have chemo with Herceptin, I have been told the cancer is sure to come back. Who is your Cardiologist & where do you live? What do you advise?

  3. When do they check your heart? I’ve been taking Taxol with Herceptin for 10 weeks and am scheduled for 2 more of those infusions. Then I’m on track to take Herceptin once every 3 weeks for 40 weeks! No one has said anything about a heart check so far.

      • Thanks. I did have the echocardiogram before I started chemo, but I haven’t had a follow-up yet. Will ask on Monday when I go in for the next infusion.

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