Study: E–Cigarette Use Linked with Heart Attacks, Depression, Coronary Artery Disease

Adults who vape and use e-cigarettes are more likely to have heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and depression compared to those who do not use tobacco products.

The new research, which is relevant both to caregivers and to users of e-cigarettes (which some estimates put at 1 out 20 Americans) will be presented at the American College of Cardiology 2019 Scientific Sessions (ACC.19) in New Orleans. The research group, working out of the was led by Mohinder Vindhyal, MD, assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita.

“Until now, little has been known about cardiovascular events relative to e-cigarette use,” Dr. Vindhyal said in an ACC press release.  “These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”

E-cigarette Use Linked with Adverse Outcomes

For the study, the researchers looked at data on 96,467 respondents to the National Health Interview Survey, fielded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making it one of the largest of its kind to date. The surveys were conducted from 2014, 2016, and 2017. Study researchers focused particularly on hypertension rates, heart attacks, stroke, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and depression/anxiety among e-cigarette users. The e-cigarette users tended to be younger (average age, 33) than nonusers (average age, 40). The researchers compared the results to previous data on tobacco users and nonsmokers as well.

According to the top-line results, e-cigarette users were 56% more likely to have a heart attack, 30% more likely to suffer stroke, and had higher rates of coronary artery disease and circulatory problems when compared to nonusers. Most of these associations remained following adjustment for age, sex, body mass index (BMI), high cholesterol, hypertension, and smoking. E-cigarette users, the researchers reported, were still 34% more likely to experience a heart attack, 25% more likely to have coronary artery disease, and 55% more likely to have depression/anxiety.

“When the risk of heart attack increases by as much as 55% among e-cigarettes users compared to nonsmokers, I wouldn’t want any of my patients nor my family members to vape,  When we dug deeper, we found that regardless of how frequently someone uses e-cigarettes, daily or just on some days, they are still more likely to have a heart attack or coronary artery disease,” Vindhyal said.

E-cigarettes Are Not “Safe”

Dr. Vindhyal did note that while the risk for adverse outcomes (heart attack rates, stroke rates, and others) were still higher with traditional cigarettes compared to e-cigarettes, the current study results should dispel the myth that e-cigarettes are “safe.”

“Cigarette smoking carries a much higher probability of heart attack and stroke than e-cigarettes, but that doesn’t mean that vaping is safe,” Vindhyal said.

He added that “some e-cigarettes contain nicotine and release very similar toxic compounds to tobacco smoking,” according to the press release.

Eric Raible is editor of the Cardiology section of DocWire News and has more than a decade’s worth of experience in covering and publishing in the cardiology space. Eric has previously served as a founding editor of CardioSource WorldNews, and is a former staff writer and editor of Cardiology Today.