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LVHN Cardio-Oncology Collaboration Protects Heart Health During Cancer Treatment

Michelle Lynch received collaborative care from her cardiology and oncology teams

Michelle Lynch of East Allen Township was a cardiac patient with Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) for nearly a decade when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, in July 2021.

Lynch was being treated for atrial fibrillation and supraventricular tachycardia by Deborah Sundlof, DO, cardiologist and co-director of the Women’s Heart and Vascular Program at Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute, when she also began cancer treatment under Rizwan Tariq, MD, medical oncologist and hematologist with Lehigh Valley Topper Cancer Institute.

“Multiple myeloma, a malignancy involving the plasma cells, is not curable but is very treatable with a combination of many different medications,” Tariq explains. “Some of those medications can have cardiac complications, so considering Michelle’s cardiac history, there was potentially a risk that her underlying heart condition could be worsened with the treatment.”

Working together for better patient outcomes

LVHN’s Cardio-Oncology Program, recognized by the International Cardio-Oncology Society as a gold level Center of Excellence, enables personalized care that optimizes both cancer and heart treatments for successful patient outcomes.

“Having a cardio-oncology program is phenomenal because it allows us to ensure that the patient’s cardiac issues are monitored very closely by cardiologists who are familiar with the medications we use,” Tariq says.

“It is truly a collaboration,” Sundlof says, explaining that the medication often prescribed for nausea can interact with heart medications, and chemotherapy agents can have other serious effects. “When we are able to manage cardiovascular risk factors throughout chemotherapy, the patient is much less likely to develop cardiotoxicities [heart damage resulting from cancer treatment]. In this case, we made sure Michelle’s blood pressure and cholesterol were controlled, and that she was able to exercise a bit through her cancer treatments,” which also included radiation therapy and stem cell transplantation.

Confident in quality care

The cardio-oncology team treated Lynch’s cancer without any adverse cardiac consequences despite the multiple potential interactions between her chemotherapy and heart medications. Lynch, 55, currently has no active cancer in her body as she continues to manage both her cardiac conditions and myeloma maintenance medication – a daily chemo pill – guided by the reassuring expertise of her LVHN team.

“I feel very confident in the care I’m receiving and the level of knowledge in both of these doctors,” Lynch says. “No changes happen to my medication on either side without both [Sundlof and Tariq] being aware of it. The collaboration between the two of them is very important in my long-term care.”

“I could not travel this journey without them supporting me,” she adds. “They make this as easy as it can be on me, and I feel truly fortunate to be under their care.”

Anita Krick


At Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute our cardiologists work with your oncologist to minimize and prevent cancer treatment-related heart problems. Our Cardio-Oncology Program is recognized by the International Cardio-Oncology Society as a gold level Center of Excellence.

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