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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 17-25

Peripheral artery disease and stroke

1 Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Cardiology Unit, University of Messina, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria “Policlinico G. Martino”, Messina, Italy
2 Rehabilitation Cardiology Unit, Motta di Livenza, Treviso, Italy
3 Cardiology Department, Hospital ‘Bianchi Melacrino Morelli’ Reggio Calabria, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Concetta Zito
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Messina, Via Consolare Valeria 98124, Messina
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcecho.jcecho_4_19

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Peripheral artery disease (PAD) and stroke can occur as vascular complication of anticancer treatment. Although the mechanisms, monitoring, and management of cardiotoxicities have received broad attention, vascular toxicities remain often underrecognized. In addition, the development of new chemotherapeutic drugs bears the risk of vasotoxicities that are yet to be identified and may not be realized with short-term follow-up periods. The propensity to develop PAD and/or stroke reflects the complex interplay between patient's baseline risk and preexisting vascular disease, particularly hypertension and diabetes, while evidence for genetic predisposition is increasing. Chemotherapeutic agents with a prominent vascular side effect profile have been identified. Interruption of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors (VEGFIs) signaling (i.e., bevacizumab) is associated with vascular toxicity and clinical sequelae such as hypertension, stroke, and thromboembolism beyond acute coronary syndromes. Cisplatin and 5-fluorouracil are the main drugs involved in the stroke risk. In addition, circulating concentrations of VEGF are reduced by cyclophosphamide administered at continuous low doses, which might underpin some of the observed vascular toxicity, such as stroke, as seen in patients treated with VEGF inhibitors. The risk of stroke is also increased after treatment with anthracyclines that can induce endothelial dysfunction and increase arterial stiffness. Proteasome inhibitors ( bortezomib and carfilzomib) and immunomodulatory agents (thalidomide, lenalidomide, and pomalidomide), approved for use in multiple myeloma, carry a black box warning for an increased risk of stroke. Finally, head-and-neck radiotherapy is associated with a doubled risk of cerebrovascular ischemic event, especially if exposure occurs in childhood. The mechanisms involved in radiation vasculopathy are represented by endothelial dysfunction, medial necrosis, fibrosis, and accelerated atherosclerosis. However, BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI), used for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), is the main antineoplastic drugs involved in the development of PAD. In particular, second- and third-generation TKIs, such as nilotinib and ponatinib, while emerging as a potent arm in contrasting CML, are associated with a higher risk of PAD development rather than traditional imatinib. Factors favoring vascular complication are the presence of traditional cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) and predisposing genetic factors, high doses of BCR-ABL TKIs, longer time of drug exposure, and sequential use of potent TKIs. Therefore, accurate cardiovascular risk stratification is strongly recommended in patient candidate to anticancer treatment associated with higher risk of vascular complication, in order to reduce the incidence of PAD and stroke through CVRF correction and selection of appropriate tailored patient strategy of treatment. Then, a clinical follow-up, eventually associated with instrumental evaluation through vascular ultrasound, should be performed.

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