Having to endure fertility treatments without becoming pregnant afterward can be emotionally devastating for a woman. Now, according to a new study, failed fertility therapy has also been linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease later on.
Published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the study analyzed data from 28,442 women under the age of 50 who underwent fertility treatments in Ontario between 1993 and 2011. Each of the women were followed through March 2015, with nearly one-third of the participants giving birth within one year of their final fertility treatment. The scientists found that those who didn’t give birth had a 19 percent increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events — including heart failure — later in life.
Yet, despite the findings, the absolute increased cardiovascular risk was relatively modest — just about ten events per 1,000 women after ten years (up from six events per 1,000 women for those who became pregnant and had a child after undergoing fertility treatment). Furthermore, the study’s authors suggest that the increased risk may occur because fertility treatments might “merely unmask a latent predisposition to premature cardiovascular disease among individuals at risk of infertility.” Therefore, the scientists noted that the findings shouldn’t necessarily deter women from pursuing fertility therapy. Instead, they may merely want to proceed with caution.
“We don’t want to alarm women who undergo fertility therapy; we are instead suggesting that as women age, they should stay mindful of their health and remind their physician 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,” study co-author Dr. Donald Redelmeier, of ICES, said in the statement.