The chemotherapy agent Daunorubicin and related drugs (called anthacyclines) can damage the heart muscle. The likelihood of this occurring depends on the amount of Daunorubicin given and the presence of underlying heart problems in the patient. If heart damage occurs, it is not usually associated with chest pain but causes difficulty with breathing following exercise or when laying flat, such as when the patient sleeps.
In patients undergoing a blood and marrow transplant, heart complications are rare but damage can occur with the high-dose therapy, particularly when cyclophosphamide or total body irradiation is used.
To monitor for this complication, patients may have one or more heart scans (RVG or MUGA studies) done to measure how well their heart is functioning.