Failed fertility treatments linked with increased risk of heart disease in later life 5 years ago

Failed fertility treatments linked with increased risk of heart disease in later life

Women who undergo fertility treatments, but do not get pregnant, have a higher risk of developing long-term heart disease, compared with women who become pregnant.

A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has demonstrated a link between failed fertility treatments and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Dr Jacob Udell, the study's lead author and a cardiologist at Toronto's Women's College Hospital, says there is a lack of data on the long-term health impacts of fertility treatments, especially in women who do not conceive,

"We found that two-thirds of women never became pregnant after being managed for fertility treatment and these women also had worse long-term cardiovascular risk, specifically higher risks of stroke and heart failure, compared with the remaining third of women who did become pregnant and delivered a baby."


Dr Udell's study looked at data on 28,442 women under the age of 50 who underwent fertility treatment in Ontario from April 1993 through to March 2011. The women were followed until March 31, 2015, for adverse cardiovascular effects. About one-third (9,349) gave birth within one year of their final treatment, while the remaining two-thirds did not give birth.

Fertility treatment failure was associated with a 19% increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, in particular, heart failure. However, the researchers stress the absolute risk was modest at about 10 events per 1000 women after ten years for those where fertility treatment failed versus six events per 1,000 women for those who became pregnant and delivered a child.

The average age of the women who received fertility therapy was 35 years; 23,575 (83%) had no prior deliveries, and the average number of fertility cycles was three. Dr Donald Redelmeier, co-author of the study and senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, says women should notify their doctors of any previous fertility treatment:

"These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that fertility therapy may represent an early indication for future cardiovascular disease because it represents a unique cardiometabolic stress test.

We don't want to alarm women who undergo fertility treatments; we are instead suggesting that as women age, they should stay mindful of their health and remind their doctor about any fertility therapy years earlier.

It can be an opportunity for their doctor to review other risk factors for heart disease and discuss ways to protect against future cardiac problems."

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