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Myocardial Ischemia Induced by 5-Fluorouracil: A Prospective Electrocardiographic and Cardiac Biomarker Study

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BACKGROUND: Cardiotoxicity induced by 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is well known but poorly understood. In this study, we undertook ECG recording (Holter) and analyses of the biomarkers troponin and copeptin in patients receiving 5-FU to increase our understanding of the cardiotoxicity.

SUBJECTS, MATERIALS, AND METHODS: Patients with colorectal or anal cancer that received first-time treatment with 5-FU-based chemotherapy were prospectively included. Holter recording, clinical evaluation, 12-lead electrocardiogram, and assessment of plasma concentrations of troponin I and copeptin were performed before (control) and during 5-FU treatment (intervention).

RESULTS: A total of 108 patients were included, 82 with colorectal and 26 with anal cancer. The proportion of patients with myocardial ischemia on Holter recording was significantly higher during the first 5-FU infusion (14.1%) than before (3.7%; p = .001). The ischemic burden per day (p = .001), the number of ST depression episodes per day (p = .003), and the total duration of ischemic episodes per day (p = .003) were higher during the first 5-FU infusion than before, as was plasma copeptin (p < .001), whereas plasma troponin I was similar (p > 0.999). Six patients (5.6%) developed acute coronary syndromes and two (1.8%) developed symptomatic arrhythmias during 5-FU treatment.

CONCLUSION: 5-FU infusion is associated with an increase in the number of patients with myocardial ischemia on Holter recording. According to biomarker analyses, 5-FU is associated with an increase in copeptin, but rarely with increases in cardiac troponin I. However, 5%-6% of the patients developed acute coronary syndromes during treatment with 5-FU.

IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Symptomatic 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cardiotoxicity occurs in 0.6%-19% of patients treated with this drug, but a small electrocardiographic (Holter) study has revealed silent myocardial ischemia in asymptomatic patients, suggesting a more prevalent subclinical cardiac influence. This study demonstrated a significant increase in the number of patients with myocardial ischemia on Holter recording during 5-FU treatment and an increase in ischemic burden. Cardiac biomarker analyses suggested that 5-FU infusion results in endogenous stress (increased copeptin) but rarely induces myocyte injury (no change in troponin). These findings suggest a more prevalent cardiac influence from 5-FU and that Holter recording is an important tool in the evaluation of patients with suspected cardiotoxicity from 5-FU.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe oncologist
Volume25
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
ISSN1083-7159
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Sep 2020

    Research areas

  • 5-Flourouracil, Cardiotoxicity, Myocardial ischemia, Colorectal cancer, Anal cancer

ID: 61911420