Failed Fertility Treatments May Increase Risk Of Heart Problems: Study

Women who undergo fertility treatments, but are unable to conceive a child, may face a higher risk of suffering heart problems, according to the findings of new research. 

In a study published this month in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers from the University of Toronto warn that failed fertility treatments may result in a 19% increased risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to women who had fertility treatments and became pregnant.

Researchers analyzed data from more than 28,000 women who received gonadotropin-based fertility therapy between April 1,1993 and March 31, 2011. Women were under the age of 50, on average about 35 years old. They were followed until 2015.

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About 33% of women conceived and gave birth to babies. Nearly 70%, or more than 20,000, did not become pregnant.

The two-thirds of women who never conceived a child after the fertility treatment experienced a 19% increased risk of cardiovascular problems compared to those who conceived. That included a higher risk of stroke and heart failure.

Those women suffered nearly 3,000 cardiovascular events over eight years of followup. Study authors indicated it is the equivalent of a 21% relative increase in the annual rate.

On average, women underwent three rounds of fertility treatment. Researchers accounted for age, year, baseline risk factors, health care history and number of fertility cycles. However, the findings indicated the number of treatments were not connected to an increased risk.

Despite the increased risk, researchers said the overall risk is quite low. It is the equivalent of 10 cardiovascular events per 1,000 women who had failed treatments and 6 events per 1,000 for those that gave birth.

The study doesn’t prove cause and effect. It may indicate women experiencing infertility may already have underlying health conditions. The underlying conditions may be what is contributing to the infertility to begin with, or they may have a predisposition toward cardiovascular disease.

Other studies have linked fertility treatments to birth defects, including those involving the large intestine and rectum. A study published last year linked fertility treatments to a 67% increased risk of a child developing leukemia.

While many women may be worried about the findings, researchers said women shouldn’t opt against fertility treatments. Fertility treatment involves strong drugs that can rev up a woman’s reproductive cycle, this may also contribute to the cardiovascular risk.

They recommend women with a history of cardiovascular disease should talk to their doctor about the risks before beginning treatment. They should also continue to be monitored by their doctor after undergoing treatment.


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