Dr. Semien forwarded the results of my baseline MUGA scan last week. She’s testing my cardiac output (Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction, to be exact) before Herceptin treatment and periodically over the next year and a half because of Herceptin’s tendency towards cardiotoxicity. Somewhere between 3% and 16% of Herceptin patients prematurely discontinue treatment because of significantly decreased heart function. For most patients, the heart will return to normal efficiency after Herceptin is stopped and of course I’d like to be complete the entire chemo + Herceptin regimen for maximum efficacy.
Typically around 60%, a normal result can vary from 50% to 80% (notably, not 100%). A higher LVEF roughly correlates with better heart strength and lower mortality risk. Patients can raise a low LVEF through interventions such as medication, low sodium diet, exercise, and weight loss. As luck would have it, my LVEF is normal, measuring “in excess of 70%,” which means that more than 70% of the blood in my heart’s left ventricle is pumped out to the body with each contraction. I heartily approve.
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