Fertility Treatment No Problem for Your Heart

Fertility treatments in women show no increased risk for cardiovascular disease

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Struggling to have a child can take a toll on a person's mind and body, especially if they are undergoing fertility treatments. But the process can pay off with a child — and possibly better health.

A recent study found that undergoing fertility treatments did not increase a woman's risk of heart disease. In fact, it seemed to cut women's risk in half, compared to women who did not undergo fertility treatments.

This finding does not mean that the fertility treatments caused the women to have a lower risk, but it is good news.

Women who underwent fertility treatment were also less likely to have depression, alcoholism or attempts to harm themselves.

"Ask your doctor how to reduce your cardiovascular risk."

This study was led by Jacob A. Udell, MD, MPH, of the Women's College Research Institute and Cardiovascular Division at the University of Toronto's Women's College Hospital in Canada.

The study looked at whether undergoing fertility treatments might influence patients' risk for cardiovascular disease later on.

The authors investigated the medical histories of 1.2 million women who gave birth in Ontario, Canada between July 1993 and March 2010.

They categorized the women according to whether they had received fertility therapy in the two years before giving birth or not.

Then the researchers looked to see which of the women had any kind of death from a cardiovascular-related condition or who experienced any of the following: stroke, coronary ischemia, ischemic attack, blood clot or heart failure.

Ischemia refers to a loss of blood flow, especially in the heart. It can cause neurological dysfunction, stroke or heart disease.

Of the women studied, 6,979, or about 0.6 percent, had undergone fertility therapy within the two years before giving birth.

Over an average of 10 years follow-up, the women who had undergone fertility therapy actually experienced fewer cardiovascular events than those who had conceived naturally.

Among the women who underwent fertility therapy, 103 out of every 100,000 had some sort of cardiovascular event during follow-up.

By comparison, 117 out of every 100,000 of the women who did not have fertility therapy experienced a cardiovascular event.

After taking into account other factors that might have influenced the women's risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that women undergoing fertility therapy were actually about half as likely as women who didn't to experience any kind of severe heart disease-related health problem.

The reduced cardiovascular risk among the women who underwent fertility therapy existed regardless of the women's age or income level.

In addition, women who had undergone fertility therapy were also less likely to die of any cause, to experience any kind of blood clot, to have depression, to develop alcoholism or to try to harm themselves.

The researchers concluded that fertility treatments did not increase women's risk of cardiovascular health problems and might have offered a protective effect against those conditions and several others.

This study was published July 19 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

The research was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Women's Health, the CHEST Foundation, the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago and the Canada Research Chair in Medical Decision Sciences.

Review Date: 
August 14, 2013
Last Updated:
August 22, 2013