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Adding to the growing concerns about the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes, new research suggests that side effects of vaping appear to be linked to more cases of heart attacks, coronary artery disease and depression.
In a study that will be presented later this month at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session in Washington, D.C., researchers from the University of Kansas say electronic cigarette users are more than 50% more likely to have a heart attack than those who do not vape, providing alarming results for a growing number of people who assume the new products do not pose a health risk.
An estimated 1 out of 20 Americans have used an electronic cigarette, commonly known as “vaping”, due to vapors released from the liquid nicotine. According to the researchers, there are now more than 460 brands of electronic cigarettes, with more than 7,700 flavors, and sales have increased by a factor of 14 since 2007.
This latest study involved a survey of more than 96,000 individuals who responded to the National Health Interview Survey from 2014, 2016, and 2017.
According to the findings, those who vape are 56% more likely to have a heart attack than those who do not. Additionally, the researchers found that they are 30% more likely to suffer a stroke, 10% more likely to suffer coronary artery disease and 44% more likely to suffer circulatory problems. They were also twice as likely to suffer depression, anxiety and similar mental health issues.
“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,” Dr. Mohinder Vindhyal, lead study author and assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine said in a press release issued on March 7. “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.”
The findings come amid increased focus on teen e-cigarette use, as vaping has quickly become the most popular form of tobacco use among teens. Rates jumped 78 percent in only one year, from 2017 to 2018. In 2011, when the FDA first said it would regulate e-cigarettes, only 1.5 percent of teens vaped, but now more than one-third of teens use e-cigarettes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently called on the federal government to implement more stringent vaping laws across the country, and not wait another year to act.
At a public hearing in late January, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who announced he was stepping down several days ago, indicated that unless the trend in teen vaping changes, the agency may push for a full ban on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), like e-cigarettes.
Recently the Surgeon General issued a safety advisory warning the public about the long-term health risks and addiction teens face by taking up the habit.
Other studies have also shown recently that teen use of e-cigarettes quadruples their risk of smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes later in life. Teenagers also face other health risks related to toxic chemical exposure and respiratory side effects.
The FDA proposed restrictions on e-cigarettes last year, yet failed to include a full ban on flavored vaping products, which are widely believed to entice teens to try the products.
The FDA has the authority to ban e-cigarette sales and require vaping manufacturers to obtain formal approval through the FDA, but has not done so.
If progress isn’t made, Gottlieb warned, the entire category of e-cigarettes and vaping could be removed from store shelves. The agency wants to see a decrease in teen vaping rates over the next year.