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Black women nearly twice as likely as White women to suffer cardiac side effects from breast cancer chemotherapy

Black women were nearly two times more likely to have cardiac side effects than white women, according to a study of women diagnosed with stage I-III HER2 positive breast cancer from 2004-2013.

These disparities persisted even when adjusting for known risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity as well as for socioeconomic differences. The cardiac side effects measured were either heart failure or a significant decline in ejection fraction, a measure of heart strength.

Memorial Sloan Kettering cardiologist Anthony Yu started the study when he noticed that a disproportionate number of his breast cancer patients were Black. “When I first started talking to others about it, we thought maybe it was just a coincidence,” said Yu. “But it eventually became clear based on my experience that there could be an underlying difference between Black patients and patients of other racial groups.”

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