In a new study led by UC San Francisco, researchers find that use of e-cigarettes every day can nearly double the odds of a heart attack.
The finding is from analysis of a survey of nearly 70,000 people.
This is the first study to examine the relationship between e-cigarette use and heart attacks, and begins to fill the understanding of the effects of e-cigarettes on long-term health.
Electronic cigarettes typically deliver an aerosol of nicotine and other flavors by heating a liquid.
They are promoted as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, which generate the nicotine aerosol by burning tobacco.
While e-cigarettes deliver lower levels of carcinogens than conventional cigarettes, they deliver both ultra-fine particles.
These particles are 1/50 to 1/100 the size of a human hair—and other toxins that have been linked to higher cardiovascular and non-cancer lung disease risks.
In the current study. the team involved 69,452 people who were interviewed through National Health Interview Surveys in 2014 and 2016.
They reported whether they had ever used e-cigarettes and/or cigarettes, and whether they had ever been told by a doctor or other health professional that they had had a heart attack.
The team found that among the 9,352 current and former e-cigarette users, 333 (3.6 percent) had a heart attack at some point, with the highest ratio (6.1 percent) among those who used e-cigarettes daily.
The research also found that dual use of e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes—the most common use pattern among e-cigarette users—appears to be more dangerous than using either product alone.
For daily users of both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes, the heart attack risk were 4.6 times that of people who had never used either product.
The finding suggests that the heart attack risk of e-cigarettes adds to the risk of smoking cigarettes. Using both products at the same time is worse than using either one separately.
Someone who continues to smoke daily while using e-cigarettes daily increases the odds of a heart attack by a factor of five.
But the research also reported some good news if smokers quit:
Although there was a “lasting effect” associated with being a former smoker, there was not a significant increase in myocardial infarction risk for former or (sometimes) e-cigarette users.
The risk of heart attack starts to drop immediately after you stop smoking e-cigarettes.
The senior author Stanton Glantz, Ph.D. is a UCSF professor of medicine.
The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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