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UT Southwestern Medical Center's Cardio-Oncology Program focuses on the complex cardiovascular needs of cancer patients. Before, during, and after cancer treatment, our team helps to shield the cardiovascular system from the unwanted side effects of cancer treatment and, when damage does occur, to treat cancer survivors’ unique cardiac conditions.

With a top-15 nationally ranked cardiology and heart surgery program, and an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center, UT Southwestern is uniquely positioned to offer cancer patients access to one of the most advanced cardio-oncology programs in the country.

Specialized Heart Care for Cancer Patients and Survivors

Expertise and collaboration are vital in treating patients who have both heart disease and cancer. Cardiovascular diseases – whether preexisting conditions or those that develop during cancer treatment – can significantly affect a patient’s health and even lead to death.

UT Southwestern’s cardio-oncology team provides experienced, integrated care that is informed by the latest research. We collaborate frequently with specialists from other disciplines. Cardiologists, oncologists, hematologists, surgeons, and specially trained advanced practice providers work together to provide high-quality, coordinated care. Our multidisciplinary approach puts our patients first and helps improve patients’ overall outcomes.

For convenience, patients can schedule one appointment, using one phone number, to see their cardiologist and oncologist as well as have blood work and cardiac tests completed. Patients can also book virtual – telehealth – appointments, an important safety measure for people who are at high risk for infection.

We also offer rehabilitation – a critical component of recovery that can prevent future heart disease – through our Oncology Rehabilitation Program.

Conditions We Treat

We see cancer patients before, during, or after they receive treatment that – while beneficial for treating the cancer – might have a negative impact on the heart.

Cancer treatment can cause heart issues, such as:

In cardio-oncology, our goal is to support the effective cancer therapy by preventing damaging effects on the heart.

Who needs cardio-oncology services?

Our specialists work with patients at various points throughout their cancer treatment journey. We provide care for:

  • Cancer patients with preexisting cardiac conditions, such as established coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, or high blood pressure
  • Cancer patients at risk for heart disease due to intensive cancer treatments
  • Cancer survivors who developed heart damage during cancer therapy
  • Childhood cancer survivors with late onset heart damage from cancer therapy when they were younger
Preventive care

We take a preventive approach, working with patients to avoid cardiovascular issues from cancer therapies before they occur. Measures we take include:

  • Evaluating cardiovascular health status
  • Evaluating cardio-metabolic risk
  • Optimizing modifiable risk factors: lifestyle, blood pressure, lipid profile

Learn more about our Preventive Cardiology program that provides patients with personalized plans to prevent and treat heart diseases.

Meet the Team

Meet Dr. Vlad Zaha

Dr. Zaha has served in the leadership council of the Cardio-Oncology Section of the American College of Cardiology since 2018. He is an active member of various organizations including the American Heart Association, the American Society of Echocardiography, the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, the Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance, and the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.

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Meet Dr. Alvin Chandra

Dr. Chandra is a prolific academic author and clinician committed to improving quality of life in patients with heart disease. As a member of the cardio-oncology team his clinic focuses on prevention of cardiovascular disease with a special focus on the cancer population.

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Meet Dr. Srilakshmi Vallabhaneni

Dr. Vallabhaneni's clinical and research interests include advanced cardiac imaging with echocardiography and cardiovascular magnetic resonance, especially applied to early detection and prevention of cancer therapy-related cardiotoxicity for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

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Cardio-Oncology Diagnosis, Advanced Imaging, and Treatment

Before a patient receives surgical or medical treatment for cancer, our team performs a thorough evaluation to determine the patient’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease and to create a plan to minimize potential complications.

When a patient has a preexisting cardiac condition, we create a plan to treat the condition before the cancer treatment begins. Our aim is to prevent complications and improve the patient’s heart health so the cancer therapy will be as effective as possible.

Diagnosis

To assess heart health before treatment we might perform blood tests to check factors such as cholesterol levels, thyroid hormone levels, inflammatory markers, or cardiac enzyme levels, as well as dedicated cardiovascular imaging protocols.

Advanced Imaging

To monitor patients during treatment, we use dedicated imaging protocols for early detection of cardiac problems.

Our Echocardiography (Echo) Lab is located within Simmons Cancer Center, offering patients the flexibility and convenience of comprehensive care under one roof. An echocardiogram uses high-frequency sound waves to create pictures of the heart.

Additional imaging might include:

3-dimensional (3D) echocardiogram: We routinely perform 3D echocardiograms, which provide pictures of the heart that are even more detailed than a traditional echocardiogram.

Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Using a combination of radio waves, magnets, and a computer, this procedure evaluates the heart and blood vessels.

Cardiac positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT): This procedure uses a small amount of radioactivity to assess heart metabolism.

Cardiac stress tests: These tests determine the health of the heart, including pumping efficiency.

Treatment

Patients who have heart valve issues are referred to specialists in our cardiothoracic service. Patients with vascular issues such as coronary artery disease are referred to interventional cardiologists. Those who have heart rhythm issues are referred to our electrophysiologists.

After treatment, we monitor patients for potential heart complications with appropriate blood tests and imaging studies.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s top academic medical centers, UT Southwestern offers a wide range of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients who have any combination of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Current clinical trials:

Additional clinical trials are being developed in collaboration with oncology and radiation oncology focused on machine learning assistive prediction modeling. Our goal is to use these models to predict how certain types of radiation can affect the future risk of a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke.

Find a Clinical Trial

We have a wide range of clinical trials open to patients with all stages of cancer. Search for opportunities to participate in a cancer study.

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