(HealthDay News) — Cancer patients who have diabetes may suffer worse heart damage from chemotherapy, potentially increasing their risk of heart failure, according to a study presented at the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging’s EuroEcho-Imaging 2016, held from Dec. 7 to 10 in Leipzig, Germany.

Researchers tracked 83 patients in a hospital surveillance program, including 54 with breast cancer, 20 with lymphoma, and nine with gastric cancer. Their average age was 52, and 78 percent were female.

Patients with diabetes showed more signs of reduced global longitudinal strain and left ventricular ejection fraction, early warning signs of heart failure. But the study did not prove that diabetes caused more damage from chemotherapy.

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“Cancer patients should strictly control cardiovascular risk factors with lifestyle changes and, if necessary, with medication,” lead author Ana Catarina Gomes, M.D., of the Hospital Garcia de Orta in Almada, Portugal, said in a news release from the European Society of Cardiology. “But, of course, cardiovascular prevention should never postpone the beginning of chemotherapy, since treating cancer is the first priority.”

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