Kazemi-Bajestani SM, Becher H, Fassbender K, Chu Q, Baracos VE
J Cachexia Sarcopenia Muscle 2014 Jun;5(2):95-104
Cancer cachexia is defined as a multifactorial syndrome of involuntary weight loss characterized by an ongoing loss of skeletal muscle mass and progressive functional impairment. It is postulated that cardiac dysfunction/atrophy parallels skeletal muscle atrophy in cancer cachexia. Cardiotoxic chemotherapy may additionally result in cardiac dysfunction and heart failure in some cancer patients. Heart failure thus may be a consequence of either ongoing cachexia or chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity; at the same time, heart failure can result in cachexia, especially muscle wasting. Therefore, the subsequent heart failure and cardiac cachexia can exacerbate the existing cancer-induced cachexia. We discuss these bilateral effects between cancer cachexia and heart failure in cancer patients. Since cachectic patients are more susceptible to chemotherapy-induced toxicity overall, this may also include increased cardiotoxicity of antineoplastic agents. Patients with cachexia could thus be doubly unfortunate, with cachexia-related cardiac dysfunction/heart failure and increased susceptibility to cardiotoxicity during treatment. Cardiovascular risk factors as well as pre-existing heart failure seem to exacerbate cardiac susceptibility against cachexia and increase the rate of cardiac cachexia. Hence, chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity, cardiovascular risk factors, and pre-existing heart failure may accelerate the vicious cycle of cachexia-heart failure. The impact of cancer cachexia on cardiac dysfunction/heart failure in cancer patients has not been thoroughly studied. A combination of serial echocardiography for detection of cachexia-induced cardiac remodeling and computed tomography image analysis for detection of skeletal muscle wasting would appear a practical and non-invasive approach to develop an understanding of cardiac structural/functional alterations that are directly related to cachexia.