Barbra Streisand Women's Heart Center

Sandra Russell

Sandra Russell
Her Vulnerable Heart

In March 2013, Sandra Russell, a 12-year breast cancer survivor, suffered a heart attack. She soon found out at the Cedars-Sinai Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center that radiation exposure to treat the cancer in her left breast a decade earlier could have damaged the lining of her heart arteries.

Then, in June, Sandra discovered a new lump, this time in her right breast. “It was as if my whole sense of security had been squashed,” she says. A month later, she underwent two surgeries. “All of which doesn’t help with trying to lead a stress-free life,” adds Sandra, 60.

Fortunately, she has a strong network of family and friends. And she’s being cared for in Cedars-Sinai’s Cardio-Oncology Program, which unites experts in the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.

In a weekly clinic, doctors develop personalized cardiac risk assessments and treatment plans, inspired by emerging evidence that cancer treatments can cause increased heart disease risk, often decades later. “We want to alter the cardiovascular risk disease factor profile of women with a history of cancer as early as possible with lifestyle changes and, if needed, careful use of medications,” says Puja K. Mehta, MD, FACC, cardiologist and director of the Non-Invasive Vascular Function Research Laboratory.

Sandra is grateful to be watched over by a comprehensive team. “It’s not a club you want to be a member of,” she says of her dual conditions. “But the care at Cedars-Sinai has been extraordinary.”

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