Christmas Eve is greatest risk for heart attack, study claims

In a study that’s sure to put a damper on your holiday cheer, researchers are warning that Christmas Eve is actually one of the most dangerous times of year for your heart. According to Sweden’s Lund University researchers, a person’s risk for heart attack reaches its peak when the clock strikes 10 p.m. on Dec. … Continue reading “Christmas Eve is greatest risk for heart attack, study claims”

In a study that’s sure to put a damper on your holiday cheer, researchers are warning that Christmas Eve is actually one of the most dangerous times of year for your heart. According to Sweden’s Lund University researchers, a person’s risk for heart attack reaches its peak when the clock strikes 10 p.m. on Dec. 24.

“The peak is very pronounced exactly on Christmas Eve and the following two days, so, I think it is something specific for the way we celebrate these holidays,” David Erling, Lund University cardiologist, told The Telegraph.

WOMAN'S TWEETS DETAILING HEART ATTACK GO VIRAL

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, analyzed 238,000 heart attacks in Sweden between 1998 and 2013. While researchers found an average of 50 heart attacks per day occurred, the number spiked to 69 on Christmas Eve, with incidents typically occurring around 10 p.m.

“We do not know for sure but emotional distress with acute experience of anger, anxiety, sadness, grief and stress increases the risk of a heart attack,” Erling told The Telegraph. “Excessive food intake, alcohol, long distance traveling may also increase the risk.”

The risk was also heightened on New Year’s Eve and at 8 a.m. on Monday mornings, with the highest risk found in people over age 75 and those with existing heart conditions or diabetes. The study found no increased risk during sports events or Easter.

SIGNS OF HEART ATTACK EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW

The authors noted that their findings were observational, but said it proves the need for awareness.

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow that delivers oxygen to the heart is reduced or cut off. According to the American Heart Association, this occurs when coronary arteries become narrowed from fat buildup, cholesterol and other substances called plaque. According to the AHA, someone suffers a heart attack about every 40 seconds in the U.S.

Woman’s tweets detailing heart attack go viral: ‘I was lucky’

A woman who recently survived a heart attack is using her experience to remind others how symptoms of the sometimes fatal occurrence can differ for men and women.

The woman, identified only as Twitter user @gwheezie, took to the social media platform on Sunday to share her story, detailing what she later realized were signs of a heart attack.

EX-NFL CHEERLEADER DIAGNOSES OWN RARE CONDITION AFTER SYMPTOMS DISMISSED

“I want to warn women our heart attacks feel different. Last Sunday I had a heart attack. I had a 95% block in my left anterior descending artery. I’m alive because I called 911. I never had chest pain. It wasn’t what you read in pamphlets. I had it off & on for weeks,” she began in a tweet, which has garnered more than 70,000 likes and nearly 40,000 retweets as of Thursday afternoon.

“The pain ran across my upper back, shoulder blades & equally down both arms. It felt like burning & aching. I actually thought it was a muscle strain. It wasn’t until I broke into drenching sweat & started vomiting that I called 911,” she continued.

The Twitter user went on to say she is a “nurse and an older woman” who initially thought she was in pain because she had strained muscles while helping a friend clean out her barn.

“I took Motrin & put a warm pack on my shoulders, I almost died because I didn’t call it chest pain,” she wrote.

“The day before my heart attack I drove 6 hours to help my mother who lives in another state. I thought I should go to a dr but I had to help my mom who is 90 & I’d just tough it out because it wasn’t real bad,” she continued.

Symptoms of a heart attack can differ between sexes, and, according to the Mayo Clinic, women are “more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain,” which is a common sign of a heart attack.

Neck, jaw, shoulder and upper back pain can be a sign of a heart attack in women, as can abdominal discomfort, the Mayo Clinic says. Shortness of breath, pain in one or both arms, nausea or vomiting, sweating, and “unusual” or extreme fatigue are additional signs.

In total, roughly 735,000 people across the U.S. suffer a heart attack each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or who smoke are at risk for developing heart disease, which can lead to a heart attack. Additionally, those with diabetes, a poor diet, or who are overweight, among other medical conditions, are also at risk of having a heart attack, according to the CDC.

CERTAIN KOTEX TAMPONS RECALLED FOLLOWING REPORTS THEY UNRAVEL, COME APART INSIDE BODY

In the last of the series of tweets, the woman wrote she was “lucky” to have survived.

“I was lucky, I had no idea what hospital to go to, the female medics who picked me up took me to a hospital that does cardiac caths, I had 4 stents placed an hour after I got to the er. That was Sunday. I was discharged thurs & at my daughters house & back to tweeting,” she added.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

Ex-NFL cheerleader diagnoses own rare condition after symptoms dismissed

A former NFL cheerleader is urging others to be vigilant about their health after she claims her chest pain and shortness of breath were repeatedly dismissed as anxiety. Danielle Goldsmith, who spent her fall Sundays cheering on the St. Louis Rams, suffered through three months of painful symptoms before coming up with her own diagnosis, Fox 2 Now St. Louis reported.

“When medical professionals are saying I was crazy, and had anxiety and panic attacks and not to worry about it, and in my mind when you’re told that by medical professionals, you start thinking, ‘Am I crazy?’” she told the news outlet.

RISK OF BREAST CANCER MAY INCREASE AFTER GIVING BIRTH, STUDY SAYS

She researched her symptoms and discovered pectus excavatum, which according to the Mayo Clinic is a condition typically noticeable after birth, but can worsen into adulthood and causes a sunken breastbone that can look as if the chest has been scooped out. It’s more common in boys than girls, but severe cases can interfere with the heart and lungs.

In October, Goldsmith was examined at Barnes Jewish St. Louis, and an EKG reportedly revealed that she was “losing 60 percent of my blood flow.”

CERTAIN KOTEX TAMPONS RECALLED FOLLOWING REPORTS THEY UNRAVEL, COME APART INSIDE BODY

She then flew to Phoenix and underwent a corrective surgery to lift her breastbone off her heart and lungs. She has since recovered and is now encouraging patients who are struggling to find a diagnosis through her YouTube channel.

“If medical professionals don’t know enough about your health, you do your own research,” she said.

Why heart attacks kill more women than men

Heart disease is the leading cause of death of adults worldwide — and that’s even truer for women.

Women are more likely to die from heart failure than men, according to new research out of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

“There are known sex-based differences in the risk factors, presentation and management of heart disease,” the study authors write in their paper, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Looking at data from 90,000 heart failure patients between 2009 and 2014, researchers found that 16.8 percent of women died within a year of diagnosis, compared with just 14.9 percent of men.

Scientists also found that the female patients were generally “older and frailer” than their male counterparts. (A Harvard report says that the average age of a first heart attack for a woman is 72, compared with 65 for men.)

These results are just the latest example of how heart disease affects women differently than men.

Click for more from the NYPost.com

IVF kids may have higher risk of high blood pressure

Kids born through in vitro fertilization may be more likely to develop high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Researchers found a higher average blood pressure among teens born through IVF than in children conceived naturally, according to a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Moreover, teens born through IVF were more likely to have blood pressures high enough to be diagnosed with hypertension.

The researchers advise parents of children conceived with IVF to concentrate on other heart disease risk factors.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER RUPTURES SPLEEN DURING GAME

"Eliminate additional cardiovascular risk factors, such as overweight, sedentary lifestyle and smoking," suggests coauthor Dr. Urs Scherrer of the University of Bern, Switzerland. Also, he recommends, get a 24-hour blood pressure reading when the children are between ages 16 and 20.

Scherrer and colleagues compared 54 teens conceived through IVF with 43 of their friends who had been conceived naturally. The teens' average age was 17.

In adults, a blood pressure above 120/80 is considered high. But in children and adolescents, a normal blood pressure depends on age and height. If a youngster has a higher blood pressure than 90% to 95% of other males or females his or her age and height, then the child may have high blood pressure.

The IVF teens had higher blood pressure, on average, than their friends (119/71 versus 115/69). Eight of the IVF teens were diagnosed with hypertension, compared to one in the control group.

DETROIT WOMAN SAYS SELFIES ALERTED HER TO STROKE, SAVED LIFE

Five years earlier, researchers had checked blood pressures in both groups and found no difference between IVF teens and their friends. "Until adolescence there are no cardiovascular problems," Scherrer said by email.

The conditions under which IVF embryos develop may play a role, he suspects.

"There are numerous conditions which are not physiologic during the in vitro period – temperature, mechanical insults related to embryo handling, sub-optimal culture media, etc. – that the embryo needs to cope with in order to survive, (and these) may have altered the regulation of gene (expression)," Scherrer said.

While the new findings are very interesting, the study is small, said Dr. Alan Penzias, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at the Harvard Medical School and a fertility specialist at Boston IVF.

Findings of small studies are not always generalizable to the population at large, Penzias said by email.

And while the researchers may have mitigated a number of possible confounders by using the IVF children's friends as controls – the control group was probably the best match for socioeconomic background, for example – they didn't eliminate what might have been the biggest variable: history of infertility, Penzias said.

"Is the finding in this paper caused by the IVF procedure or is it caused by the infertility itself," Penzias asked.

Penzias points to a large 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found a higher risk of birth defects in babies born to couples with a history of infertility, regardless of whether the babies were conceived naturally or with IVF.

Still, Penzias said, "tracking the outcomes of medical intervention is prudent. Deciphering the mechanisms of disease to facilitate the design of treatments that improve the human condition is a worthy mission and is one that is universally endorsed."

Your ‘heart age’ may be a risk factor for early death

You may be young at heart, but your heart might be old for its age.

In fact, four out of five adults are at risk of early death due to preventable heart disease, suggests a new Heart Age Test campaign promoted by Public Health England.

“Heart disease is a largely self-inflicted disease,” Sheila Caldwell, heart attack survivor and president and founder of Heart2Heart, told Healthline. “Hopefully, knowing the ‘heart age’ is a wake-up call and, for some of our participants, it has been.”

For Caldwell, knowing her heart age changed her fate.

“Take my own case. I took my borderline screening results from before my heart attack at age 50, but my heart age was like 63,” she said. “Within a few years of doing everything we tell people to do prevent the disease, I took the screening and the heart age assessment again and at age 54… my heart age was 53. Think about that. I added 10 years to my life.”

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Nearly 2 million people have already participated in the Heart Age Test, an online tool that is similar to the American Heart Association’s My Life Check.

Both tests ask questions based on common lifestyle risk factors.

What experts have to say

Experts aren’t surprised by the Public Health England findings and confirm similar statistics in context.

“When [the American Heart Association] debuted Life’s Simple 7 and My Life Check in 2008, we found that most people thought they were in ideal health, and the reality is that most people are not… 99 percent of the U.S. adult population has at least one of the seven cardiovascular health risks,” Dr. Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, a volunteer at the American Heart Association, told Healthline.

Those risks are:

high blood pressurehigh cholesterolhigh blood glucoseunhealthy weighttobacco usephysical inactivitypoor diet

“I think that in this current era we live in, I wouldn’t say [the stats are] surprising,” Dr. Christine Jellis, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told Healthline. “In our Western culture, with Western diet, and certainly the obesity epidemic, I’m not surprised by the fact that people are scoring older than their ideal heart health would be.”

Why take the test?

Taking a heart age test is simply a matter of prevention.

“Millions of people around the world continue to die from a largely preventable disease,” Caldwell told Healthline. “Denial is our biggest enemy in the fight against heart disease… It is always someone else.”

Lloyd-Jones shared similar sentiments.

“Heart disease is something that happens to other people, until it happens to you,” Lloyd-Jones told Healthline. “A test like this can help make heart disease personal before it’s too late.”

Added Jellis, “Perhaps it motivates people who perhaps don’t realize that they actually score poorly… to correct those factors or go and seek out healthcare professionals to help them reduce those risk factors. So there’s a real positive advantage to taking the test.”

However, the test has limitations.

WOMAN'S SWOLLEN PINKIE RARE SIGN OF TUBERCULOSIS

Experts say that’s why it should be used in conjunction with an official screening from a healthcare professional.

You still need to see a doctor

To receive an accurate assessment, you need to know a few individualized numbers.

This requires visiting your healthcare provider first.

“I don’t think [the online test] can be used as a replacement,” Jellis said. “You need to know your blood pressure, you need to know your cholesterol, you need to know if you are diabetic to be able to plug that into the score, so we need people to be still vigilant about having those things monitored.”

She hopes the need for those personal numbers will prompt more people to see their physicians.

What you need to know

Heart health is complex.

A healthy heart age doesn’t mean you don’t need to improve your risk factors.

“I wouldn’t want people to be sort of falsely reassured and therefore stop going and seeing their physicians, but I think to be used as an adjunct for people to be extra motivated about improving certain factors, I think that could be a very useful tool,” Jellis said.

So how do you reduce risk?

According to Jellis, “The easiest thing for people to manage is improving diet, reducing weight, and improving exercise because those things, generally, we can all do it. It’s just a matter of finding the motivation and the time to do those things.”

More specifically, she suggests following recommendations from the American Heart Association:

Eat foods low in salt, sugar, and saturated fats.Do 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week.

Jellis also encourages people to avoid smoking.

“Just by being a nonsmoker, people automatically improve their cardiovascular health so much that I think that’s also sort of important to highlight,” she said.

The American Heart Association adds, “In many cases, simple lifestyle changes like adding more color to your plate and moving more are a good start.”

For Caldwell, reducing risk is personal.

“Once you know your risk factors, take meds as prescribed and think of good nutrition and exercise as part of your heart health prescription,” she said.

“Make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep and watch the stress. By the way, this applies to your kids, too, because as we know, heart disease begins in childhood.”

This article first appeared on HealthLine.com.

Artery damage seen in some teenage smokers, drinkers

Teenagers who smoke or who binge on alcohol have signs of artery damage by age 17, a recent study shows.

Researchers found that 17-year-olds who had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime or who drank more than 10 drinks on a typical drinking day had stiffer walls in their arteries.

In the long term, stiffer arteries can increase the risk for cardiovascular events, dementia, and death.

"Injury to the blood vessels occurs very early in life as a result of smoking and drinking and the two together are even more damaging, Dr. Marietta Charakida, who carried out the research at UCL Institute of Cardiovascular Science but is now at King's College London, said in a statement.

SMOKERS 'MUCH MORE LIKELY TO DEVELOP DEMENTIA,' DOCS WARN

As reported in the European Heart Journal and at a major cardiology meeting, Charakida and colleagues analyzed data collected from 2004 to 2008 on 1,266 adolescents enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Participants reported their smoking and drinking habits at ages 13, 15 and 17.

To assess the stiffness of the teens' artery walls, the researchers used a noninvasive device to measure the speed at which a pulse from the heart travels between the carotid artery in the neck and the femoral artery in the leg.

That speed is called the pulse wave velocity. A slower velocity is a good sign; it means the arterial walls are more elastic.

In 17-year-olds who had smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime, the average pulse wave velocity was 3.7 percent faster than in teens who had smoked less than 20 cigarettes.

Teenagers who tended to binge drink, or drink more than 10 drinks in a typical drinking day with the aim of becoming drunk, had an average pulse wave velocity that was 4.7 percent faster than kids who drank no more than 2 drinks in a typical drinking day, the study showed.

Furthermore, the authors report, the combination of binge-drinking habits and smoking was linked to even greater arterial damage compared to heavy drinking and smoking separately. In these kids, the pulse wave velocity was 10.8 percent higher than in teens who smoked less and didn't binge drink.

PATIENT DEVELOPS 'BLACK HAIRY TONGUE' FROM MEDICATION

But while smoking in youth was associated with increased arterial stiffness, stopping during adolescence could restore arterial health. Seventeen-year-olds who had smoked in the past but were not current smokers had arterial health similar to never-smokers.

"Existing research suggests that regular binge drinking during the teen years can damage the developing brain," Dr. Aaron White, a senior scientific adviser at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, told Reuters Health in an email.

"Findings from the current study suggest that the negative health effects of alcohol during adolescence could extend to the cardiovascular system," White said, adding that the findings are consistent with existing evidence that even a single night of binge drinking in adults can temporarily injure the heart.

An observational study like this one can only show associations; it can't prove that smoking or alcohol exposure actually caused arterial changes in these youngsters, the authors acknowledge. Also, they note, the data were reported by the teenagers themselves and might not always have been accurate.

Despite these limitations, they conclude, "Smoking exposure even at low levels and intensity of alcohol use were associated individually and together with increased arterial stiffness. Public health strategies need to prevent adoption of these habits in adolescence to preserve or restore arterial health."

Texas girl at center of court battles over life support dies

A 9-year-old Texas girl stricken with cancer died Friday just hours after an appeals court ruled that the hospital where she was treated could not remove her from life support.

Payton Summons suffered from a tumor that affected her circulation, which stopped her from breathing on her own, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She was declared brain-dead at the hospital after suffering a heart attack last month.

"At Cook Children’s [Medical Center], we mourn the loss of any young life and we understand that this has been a difficult and heartbreaking time for this family," Winifred King, a spokeswoman for Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, said. "Out of respect for Payton and her parents we feel it inappropriate to comment at this time."

The Summons family believed their daughter could recover and had been through a series of court battles with the hospital over the care of their daughter.

Cook Children’s had appealed a judge’s Oct. 15 decision to extend an order to keep her on life support until Monday.

"Cook Children’s has stated that it is "medically, ethically, and morally repugnant" to provide such care to Payton,” said Paul Stafford, one of the attorneys representing the girl’s family, in response to the appeals challenge.

The decision granted the family an additional week to find a healthcare facility that would care for the girl.

The hospital opposed the ruling, arguing that Summons "suffered a complete, irreversible destruction of her entire brain, including her brain stem. As such, there is no treatment that can be provided for her, at Cook or at any other facility, that will keep P.S. alive."

The extension would have expired at 6 p.m. Monday, paving the way for the hospital to remove her from life support.

"Cook Children's actions are contrary to the best interests of the child, the wishes of her parents, the order of the court, existing law, the hospital's own written policies, the will of the public, and the spirit of compassion, Stafford said.

Mom says painful breakup caused ‘broken heart syndrome’

A mom claims she nearly died of a broken heart when it stopped beating twice, after she broke up with her childhood sweetheart.

Helen Ross, 38, was devastated when her relationship with her first love fell apart but threw herself into her modeling work.

She went to Florida for a two-week modeling stint for fitness and fashion brands, but her trip was cut short when she collapsed on her first day of a shoot.

Her heart stopped again in hospital and doctors diagnosed her with stress-induced cardiomyopathy, known as "broken heart syndrome."

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Medics said her condition was caused by the trauma of the breakup, which is usually only seen in elderly people who lose a life partner.

According to the British Heart Foundation, the condition occurs when the heart muscle becomes suddenly weakened and stops pumping blood to the body as well as it should.

"I had never heard of broken heart syndrome before it happened to me," Ross, of Canterbury, Kent, said. "I couldn't believe a break up could affect me physically, to the point where I could have died."

"I felt distraught by the breakup, but I didn't realize it had actually broken my heart," she said.

Ross, then 26, broke up with her boyfriend of seven years, Andy, in July 2006.

She admits she was "inconsolable" but jetted to Orlando, Florida, for modeling work to take her mind off things.

“I'd given him an ultimatum but he didn't take the final chance," Ross said. “I loved him to bits and could have never pictured myself without him after we'd built a life together – we'd only just bought a house. It had only been a few days, but my friends and family were telling me to just go – that way I wouldn't be tempted to take Andy back."

“I'd only been in Orlando for 24 hours and was feeling physically normal, but out of the blue I just collapsed – there were no warning signs,” she said.

Staff on the photo shoot called an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital, where she woke up 30 minutes later.

Doctors were dumbfounded and couldn't explain why a healthy young woman had collapsed seemingly randomly.

WOMAN HAS MASSIVE STOMACH TUMOR REMOVED AFTER 13 YEARS

“The doctors and nurses were really great, they wired me up and explained I'd have to stay overnight for observation so they could monitor my heart," Ross said.

When she woke up the next morning she noticed a nurse watching her anxiously – and discovered her heart had stopped overnight.

Ross spent three days in a Florida hospital before being flown home where she was fitted with a pacemaker.  (SWNS)

“She asked me how I was feeling and how I had slept, and I told her fine – as far as I was concerned, I'd slept like a baby," she said. "She told me my heart had stopped beating while I was asleep – it had flatlined. I was shocked and couldn't believe it had happened while I was asleep, I could easily have died."

“But weirdly, by the time the doctors had come rushing in with the defibrillator seconds later, my heart had started up again by itself," she said. “They called it 'pot luck.'"

Doctors asked if she had experienced a recent trauma.

“I told them how hard the breakup had been for me, how devastated I was and they nodded and immediately said it was to blame," she said. “I had no idea that this sort of thing could happen, but they explained it isn't entirely uncommon in elderly people who lose their life partner – but it was rare in someone so young."

"They thought it had almost certainly happened to me the day before and was the reason I had collapsed at the photo shoot," she said.

Ross was in Florida Hospital East Orlando for three days, where she was monitored and tested and deemed fit enough to make the journey home so she could receive treatment in the UK.

Through her insurance company, she was medevaced back to her home and was immediately taken to hospital for further monitoring.

Ross was fitted with a pacemaker to regulate her heart during her three-day stay at Scunthorpe General Hospital, which she had removed in 2014 after no further complications.

“My dad met me in Scunthorpe and helped me get tenants for the house – I needed a fresh start," Ross said. “I re-enrolled in university to study Equine Sciences at University of Lincoln and focused on rebuilding my life."

Ross vowed never to let herself feel so dependent on a man ever again in an effort to avoid future heartbreak.

“It taught me to focus on the positives and everything I have going for me, as well as to love myself more," Ross said. “I know now I will never let myself get in that position again.”

Ross now lives with her two sons Hugo, 6, and Henry, 5, who she had with a previous partner, after her "first love."

She runs her own business, HRP Equestrian, which makes internationally award-winning horse saddle pads.

She founded children's not-for-profit charitable organization, Hugs4Lungs, in 2014 which runs a 24-hour support line for parents with children that have breathing difficulties.

Ross' son Hugo has suffered with Multiple Airway Malacia, Tracheobronchomalacia and unsafe swallow since birth and was diagnosed aged 2.

A spokesperson for Cardiomyopathy UK, Dr Daniel Hammersley, said: "The condition causes temporary weakening of the heart muscles which results in the pumping function of the heart."

"It can be associated with events that cause intense stress or emotion in some cases. Patients who develop this condition generally experience symptoms of chest pain or breathlessness," he said. "Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases the heart muscle function recovers within a few weeks. It is a rare condition overall. It affects women more than men. Most frequently it affects people in their 50's or 60's, although it has been seen in other age groups.“

Linked to emotional distress, the condition isn't inherited, and the BHF says it affects more women than men.

IVF kids may have higher risk of high blood pressure

Kids born through in vitro fertilization may be more likely to develop high blood pressure, a new study suggests.

Researchers found a higher average blood pressure among teens born through IVF than in children conceived naturally, according to a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Moreover, teens born through IVF were more likely to have blood pressures high enough to be diagnosed with hypertension.

The researchers advise parents of children conceived with IVF to concentrate on other heart disease risk factors.

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PLAYER RUPTURES SPLEEN DURING GAME

"Eliminate additional cardiovascular risk factors, such as overweight, sedentary lifestyle and smoking," suggests coauthor Dr. Urs Scherrer of the University of Bern, Switzerland. Also, he recommends, get a 24-hour blood pressure reading when the children are between ages 16 and 20.

Scherrer and colleagues compared 54 teens conceived through IVF with 43 of their friends who had been conceived naturally. The teens' average age was 17.

In adults, a blood pressure above 120/80 is considered high. But in children and adolescents, a normal blood pressure depends on age and height. If a youngster has a higher blood pressure than 90% to 95% of other males or females his or her age and height, then the child may have high blood pressure.

The IVF teens had higher blood pressure, on average, than their friends (119/71 versus 115/69). Eight of the IVF teens were diagnosed with hypertension, compared to one in the control group.

DETROIT WOMAN SAYS SELFIES ALERTED HER TO STROKE, SAVED LIFE

Five years earlier, researchers had checked blood pressures in both groups and found no difference between IVF teens and their friends. "Until adolescence there are no cardiovascular problems," Scherrer said by email.

The conditions under which IVF embryos develop may play a role, he suspects.

"There are numerous conditions which are not physiologic during the in vitro period – temperature, mechanical insults related to embryo handling, sub-optimal culture media, etc. – that the embryo needs to cope with in order to survive, (and these) may have altered the regulation of gene (expression)," Scherrer said.

While the new findings are very interesting, the study is small, said Dr. Alan Penzias, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive biology at the Harvard Medical School and a fertility specialist at Boston IVF.

Findings of small studies are not always generalizable to the population at large, Penzias said by email.

And while the researchers may have mitigated a number of possible confounders by using the IVF children's friends as controls – the control group was probably the best match for socioeconomic background, for example – they didn't eliminate what might have been the biggest variable: history of infertility, Penzias said.

"Is the finding in this paper caused by the IVF procedure or is it caused by the infertility itself," Penzias asked.

Penzias points to a large 2012 study in the New England Journal of Medicine that found a higher risk of birth defects in babies born to couples with a history of infertility, regardless of whether the babies were conceived naturally or with IVF.

Still, Penzias said, "tracking the outcomes of medical intervention is prudent. Deciphering the mechanisms of disease to facilitate the design of treatments that improve the human condition is a worthy mission and is one that is universally endorsed."