By: 17 September 2013

Women who give birth following fertility treatment have no long-term increased risk of death or major cardiovascular events compared to women who conceived naturally says, new research by the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

The findings, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, are the first to show fertility medications, which can cause short-term pregnancy complications, are not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life.
“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 Dr Jacob Udell, lead author of the study and cardiologist at Women’s College Hospital.

Fertility therapy medications are known to cause short-term complications such as gestational diabetes and hypertension. These short-term risks, however, do not translate into lasting cardiovascular damage according to the researchers.

In the study, the long-term risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure following fertility therapy was assessed among 1.1 million women after delivery over a 17-year follow-up period in Ontario. They found that 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 nearly half the risk of major cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart attack and heart failure; the researchers do not believe that this is a direct effect of treatment, but rather Dr Donald Redelmeier, co-author od the study and a senior scientist at ICES, thinks it may be that those with successful may have a powerful and durable change towards a healthy lifestyle. “Unknown protective mechanisms may also contribute,” he added.