If Your Heart Does This, You Might Have Prostate Cancer

You might not think the heart would have a lot to say about your prostate health considering the two organs are nowhere near each other and serve two very different purposes. However, they may be more closely linked than you realize.

It is estimated that over 299,000 new prostate cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2024 and approximately 35,250 people will die from the disease, according to recent data from the American Cancer Society. Cases of prostate cancer are often seen in older men, with three-quarters of prostate cancer deaths affecting patients over the age of 75 (per Loyola Medicine). Men with early stages of prostate cancer may not experience any symptoms at all. As the disease progresses, frequent urination, a weak urine stream, nocturia, and blood in one's pee, among other urinary symptoms may begin to develop. Body pain — particularly in the hips, spine, or ribs — may be indicative of late-stage prostate cancer. Medical News Today adds that an accelerated heart rate may also be a sign of stage 4 prostate cancer.

Higher resting heart rate may be linked to prostate cancer

Our heart rate can fluctuate depending on our caffeine intake, stress levels, what medications we take, or whether we're relaxing on the couch versus actively engaging in exercise. Generally speaking, however, a normal resting heart rate falls between 60 and 100 beats per minute, the Mayo Clinic explains.

In a 2001 study published in the Annals of Epidemiology, researchers tracked 2,442 men over the course of more than five years to explore a potential connection between the development of prostate cancer and hypertension, heart rate, and the use of antihypertensive drugs. No relationship was observed between blood pressure and prostate cancer while the use of antihypertensive drugs was found to lower prostate cancer risk. A link was found, however, between prostate cancer and men with a resting heart rate of 80 beats per minute or more compared to men with a resting heart rate that fell below 60 beats per minute.

Prostate cancer may increase the risk of atrial fibrillation

It's possible that the opposite relationship may also exist between prostate cancer and heart rate. In a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the researchers looked at health data from millions of patients collected between 2012 and 2015 to see if certain types of cancers increased the risk for atrial fibrillation (AFib) — a heart rhythm disorder in which a patient may experience a fast or pounding heartbeat (per Mayo Clinic). The study findings revealed that AFib was most significantly correlated with prostate cancer compared to other types of cancers.

"We found 2.3-fold increased odds of having AFib with all cancers studied," the lead author of the study Dr. Muhammad Khan stated in a press release. "There was a greater than 50% increased risk of AFib in prostate, colon and lung cancer patients. Of these three, those with prostate cancer had the highest risk of AFib." The researchers noted that a possible explanation for this relationship may be the increased release of inflammatory markers in certain cancers over others.

Particularly for men who may be at high risk for prostate cancer, it's important to keep up with routine blood draws and physical exams. Talk to your doctor who can help determine at what age you should begin prostate cancer screenings.