Advanced Practice Nursing Issues

The Need for Routine Monitoring of Cardiac Function in Patients Receiving 5-Fluorouracil Infusion

Nataya Francis

5-fluorouracil, cardiotoxicity, electrocardiography, routine cardiac monitoring
CJON 2014, 18(3), 360-362. DOI: 10.1188/14.CJON.360-362

Fluorouracil (5-FU) is an antimetabolite that has become the cornerstone chemotherapeutic agent used to treat tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. Although proven to be effective, 5-FU can cause cardiotoxicity, which can be life-threatening. Adverse cardiac-related events induced by 5-FU include angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, supraventricular tachycardia, and atrial fibrillation. Nurses play a crucial role in the routine monitoring of cardiac function by identifying patients at high risk of developing 5-FU-related cardiotoxicity, monitoring patients during treatment, and then implementing specific interventions if 5-FU-related cardiotoxicity is identified or suspected. This article discusses the relevance of 5-FU-related cardiotoxicity, highlights the need for routine monitoring of cardiac function, and discusses methods of early detection and management.

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