The MD Anderson Cancer Center is tackling another major killer… heart disease. According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans and cancer is number two. As we wrap up American Heart Month, we take a closer look at how the Healthy Heart Program is helping cancer survivors avoid heart disease through prescribed exercise.
Dr. Susan Gilchrist, MD, is the director and founder of the Healthy Heart Program at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. “I have always been interested in women’s health and cardiovascular prevention. Several years ago, an oncologist came up to me and asked if I would see one of his patients, as she was ‘cured’ of cancer but was developing heart risk factors,” Gilchrist shared with Prism Fitness. “I then started to focus my research on heart risk in breast cancer patients, finding it to be a problem. Since that time, I have really made it my mission to educate and help women understand their heart risk and help them maintain a healthy heart long-term.”
Patients are evaluated at the clinic. They’re assessed on key risk factors that can lead to heart disease including:
- Blood pressure
- Diabetes risk
- Current Fitness
Patients also take a fitness test (testing heart and lungs) to make sure patients are ready to begin exercise. Dr. Gilchrist then uses the findings to make a “personalized health prescription,” which could include cardio, resistance training, or a combination of both. “This is really dependent on a patient’s past exposures/treatments, their current fitness status, and their goals (fitness versus weight loss or both). It is not a ‘one size fits all’ and why I like to see patients in person!”
The Healthy Heart Program is currently open to any man or woman treated in the M.D. Anderson system with a history of cancer. Click here to learn more.