Women who give birth after undergoing fertility treatments do not face greater risks of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who don’t, new research shows.
In a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology
, medical investigators with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Women's College Hospital said their research is the first to show fertility medications, which can cause short-term pregnancy complications like diabetes and high blood pressure, do not increase the odds a woman will have heart problems later in life.
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"The speculated association between fertility therapy and subsequent cardiovascular disease is not surprising given that more women are waiting until an older age to have children, when they are at greater risk of developing heart disease," said Jacob Udell, M.D., a cardiologist at Women's College Hospital.
For the study, researchers assessed the long-term risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart failure among 1.1 million women after delivery over a 17-year follow-up period in Ontario. They found:
- A five-fold increase in the use of fertility therapy from 1993 to 2010, particularly among older women.
- The use of fertility therapy was associated with an increase in pregnancy complications including a near 30 percent increase of diabetes in pregnancy, 16 percent increase in placental disorders and a 10 percent increase in pre-eclampsia.
- Women who delivered following fertility therapy had about half the risk of subsequent death compared to women who did not have fertility therapy.
- Women who delivered following fertility therapy had nearly half the risk of major cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and heart failure.
- Researchers reported no increase in the risk of future breast or ovarian cancer in women who gave birth following fertility therapy.
"Our findings provide some reassurance that fertility therapy does not appear to increase long-term risk of cardiovascular events following successful pregnancy," said. Donald Redelmeier, M.D. "The existing literature provides mixed messages, with our results yielding a relatively favorable assessment."
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