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Study: fertility treatments do not increase cardiovascular deaths in women

Women undergoing fertility treatment are not at greater risk for future cardiovascular complications or death, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Soroka University Medical Center.

The study was recently presented at the 36th Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) in Atlanta, Georgia and has just been accepted for publication in the American Journal of Perinatology.

In the United States, fertility treatments account for about 1.5 percent of 3.9 million annual births, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. In Israel, 8,123 pregnancies in 2010 were the result of IVF treatment, according to the Israel Health Ministry.

“Now these women can relax and not worry about any cardiovascular implications from their treatment,” says Prof. Eyal Sheiner of BGU’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Faculty of Health Sciences.

“It’s important to note that IVF effects on health is disputed in medical literature and it’s difficult to publish results that show there is no difference between women who undergo IVF and women who don’t. But at the same time, because of the risks to women undergoing fertility treatment, our study was chosen to be presented at the recent SMFM conference,” Sheiner explains.

The population-based, long-term study included close to 100,000 patients over a 25-year period who had delivered babies from 1998 to 2013. In the study, 2,976 women had received medication to stimulate ovulation, known as “ovulation induction.” Additionally, 1,177 women had IVF treatments, which involves removing a woman’s egg and fertilizing it with sperm in a laboratory. In the study, these 4,153 women receiving fertility therapies were compared to 95,138 women who had successfully given birth without fertility treatments.

After comparing rates of cardiac events such as angina and congestive heart failure with cardiac-related hospitalization and procedures frequency, BGU researchers concluded that fertility treatments did not put women at added risk for heart problems.

Other researchers that participated in the study include Prof. Ilana Shoham-Vardi and Mr. Ruslan Sergienko of BGU’s Department of Public Health, as well as Dr. Djaoui Ben-Yaakov, M.D. and Dr. Roy Kessous, M.D. of BGU’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.