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Scientists Link E-Cigarettes to Heart Attacks, Strokes

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are usually thought of as “healthier” than typical cigarettes, however the jury’s still out on their potential health risks. Now, a brand new study has found a link between the use of e-cigarettes and heart attacks and also strokes.

Study Set & Results

The study analyzed data from about 400,000 Americans who took part in a national health survey in 2016. Of these, about 66,800 reported that they often used e-cigarettes.

Compared with non-e-cigarette users, regular users had a couple of 70 % higher risk of stroke, a 60 % higher risk of heart failure or angina (chest pain) and a 40 % higher risk of coronary cardiopathy.

About 79 % of e-cigarette users additionally reported using standard cigarettes, compared with just 37 % of non-e-cigarette users. [4 Myths about E-Cigarettes]

But the findings linking e-cigarettes with an inflated risk of stroke, heart attack and coronary heart disease held even when the researchers took under consideration whether or not individuals were also standard cigarette smokers, said study lead author Dr. Paul Ndunda, an assistant professor at the University of Kansas school of medicine.

What’s additional, once the researchers analyzed a set of participants who reported smoking fewer than a hundred standard cigarettes in their lives (meaning they weren’t regular users of cigarettes), they found that e-cigarette users were still 29 % more likely to report having a stroke, 25 % more likely to report having a heart failure and 18 % more likely to report having coronary cardiopathy, Ndunda told Live Science.The findings are going to be presented next week at american Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2019 in Honolulu, however has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Should We Be Worried About E-Cigarette Smoking?

Absolutely! The research results have been described as concerning, by one Dr. Larry Goldstein, who is also the co-director of the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute. “This is the first real data that we’re seeing associating e-cigarette use with hard cardiovascular events” like heart attacks and strokes, Goldstein said in a video interview with the American Stroke Association, which is a division of the American Heart Association (AHA). However, Dr. Goldstein also pointed out several limitations of the study. For example, the researchers failed to take into account other factors that are already known to increase people’s risk of stroke and heart disease, such as high blood pressure, alcohol use and an unhealthy diet.

In addition, because the study only examined people’s responses at one point in time, it is not able to tease out cause and effect — that is, it cannot prove that e-cigarette use was the cause of people’s cardiovascular problems, or whether people who use e-cigarettes have other characteristics that increased their risk.

Still, Goldstein said that these early findings need to be taken seriously, especially given the relatively large percentage of young people who use e-cigarettes. In 2016, about 11 percent of U.S. high school students reported using e-cigarettes in the last 30 days.

Unlike conventional cigarettes, which heat and burn tobacco, e-cigarettes heat up and vaporize a liquid, which usually contains nicotine and other flavorings.

The AHA cautions against the use of e-cigarettes, saying that they may pose health risks that scientists do not yet fully understand. And since e-cigarettes usually contain nicotine, they may get people addicted to the substance, according to the AHA.

Some previous studies have also suggested that the flavorings in e-cigarettes themselves may be harmful. A study published last year in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found that e-cigarette chemical flavorings had harmful effects on blood vessel cells in a lab dish.

Originally Published on Livescience.

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