E-cigarettes have needed some serious myth-busting for a while. Since they hit the market in 2007, people have mistakenly believed they’re not so bad for you, and they’re frequently touted as a healthy alternative to traditional cigarettes. But new research from the American College of Cardiology found that adults who vape are much more likely to have a heart attack, coronary artery disease, and depression compared with those who don’t use them or any tobacco products. “Until now, little has been known about cardiovascular events relative to e-cigarette use,” the study’s lead author, Mohinder Vindhyal, MD, assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita, said in a statement. “These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes.”
Sales of e-cigs have increased by nearly 14 times over the last decade, and now approximately 1 out of 20 Americans use them. This study discovered that e-cigarette users were 56 percent more likely to have a heart attack and 30 percent more likely to have a stroke, compared with non-users. Plus, the risk of coronary artery disease was 10 percent higher and circulatory issues, such as blood clots, was 44 percent higher. The research also found that those who puff on e-cigs had double the likelihood of suffering from depression, anxiety and other emotional issues. Most of these links stayed the same even when they controlled for other cardiovascular risk factors, including age, sex, BMI, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. When those variables were taken into account, vapers were still 34 percent more likely to have a heart attack, 25 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease, and 55 percent more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.
The study also looked into how the frequency of vaping affected their health. Even social e-smoking poses a serious health threat. Daily vapers had a high risk of heart attack, coronary artery disease, and depression and anxiety, while those who only vaped on some days were more likely to have a heart attack as well as depression and anxiety, with only a trend toward coronary artery disease. Just like traditional tobacco cigarettes, e-cigarettes can contain nicotine and release toxic compounds. “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 in a statement. “When the risk of heart attack increases by as much as 55 percent 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.”