E-Cigarette Reviews and Rankings

New Research Suggests E-Cigarettes Are Linked to Higher Risk of Stroke and Heart Disease

A study by the American Heart Association, a fervent opponent of electronic cigarettes, found that e-cigarette users had a higher risk of suffering a stroke stroke and heart disease than people who didn’t vape.

Yup, it seems that electronic cigarettes expose users to about the same risks as smoking, including an increased probability to suffer a stroke or develop heart disease at some point in life. Researchers from the American Heart Association (AHA) analyzed data from about 400,000 Americans who took part in the 2016 behavioral risk factor surveillance system (BRFSS) survey. Out of all the respondents, about 66,800 reported ever regularly using e-cigarettes. I’m not sure exactly what that means, as none of the sources covering this study mention it, and I’ve been unable to find the actual research online. I’m guessing the term refers to using e-cigarettes regularly for a period of time, but as for how long that period needs to be, I couldn’t tell you.

Anyway, after analyzing the information in the BRFSS survey, AHA researchers concluded that, compared with non-e-cigarette users, vapers had about a 70 percent higher risk of stroke, a 60 percent higher risk of heart attack or angina (chest pain) and a 40 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease. About 79 percent of e-cigarette users also reported smoking tobacco cigarettes, but researchers claim that the higher risk of suffering from the above mentioned diseases was still higher than that of people who had never vaped even after they took into account whether people smoked or not. How exactly they came to that conclusion is, again, unknown.

Furthermore, scientists analyzed a subcategory of participants who had ever regularly used electronic cigarettes but hadn’t smoked more than 100 cigarettes their entire lives. Even without the damage likely caused by regular tobacco smoking, these individuals were still 29 percent more likely to suffer a stroke, 25 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack and 18 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease, lead author Dr. Paul Ndunda told Live Science.

So there you have it, e-cigarette users are twice as likely to also smoke tobacco cigarettes as people who don’t use them (79 percent vs. 37 percent) and they also have a higher risk of developing life-threatening conditions like strokes and heart diseases. So throw away that e-cig right now and try quitting with FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies and counseling. And if that doesn’t work, well, I don’t know what to tell you…

Seriously though, this study has some noteworthy shortcomings that most media outlets conveniently forgot to point out. In fact, apart from Live Science, I haven’t found a single news outlet that mentions that this research is not able to prove the “cause and effect” relationship. Because participants were surveyed at a single point in time, it cannot show that e-cigarette use was the cause of people’s health problems. For all we know, there could have been so many other variables that increased their risk of stroke and heart disease, but because they only looked at e-cigarette use, they concluded that it is linked to these conditions.

As Dr. Larry Goldstein, co-director of the Kentucky Neuroscience Institute at the University of Kentucky, points out, another limitation of this study is that the researchers couldn’t take into account known risk factors of stroke and coronary heart disease, like obesity, alcohol use, unhealthy diets or high blood pressure. I will however point out that in a video interview with the American Stroke Association, which is a division of the American Heart Association, Dr. Goldstein still described the findings as “quite disturbing”.

Oh, and remember I mention how I couldn’t find this disturbing study in any online medical journal? Well, it turns out that it wasn’t published in any peer-reviewed journal. Instead, the findings were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2019 in Honolulu and simply picked up as facts by the media. Isn’t that interesting?

Now I’m not saying that the American Heart Association is biased against vaping, but here is their official position according to a press release on this recent study. You make up your own mind:

“The American Heart Association cautions against the use of e-cigarettes, stating that e-cigarettes containing nicotine are tobacco products that should be subject to all laws that apply to these products. The Association also calls for strong new regulations to prevent access, sales and marketing of e-cigarettes to youth and for more research into the product’s health impact.”

Personally I feel that even if the findings of this study were accurate – they are not, due to reasons listed above – using e-cigarettes is still much better than smoking tobacco. In that small sample of participants who hadn’t smoked more than 100 cigarettes (how big was this sample again? Oh yeah, we don’t know), the risk of stroke and heart disease was much smaller than the general percentages presented in the study, which tells me that the American Heart Association should probably focus more on the things that are known to kill people, instead of going after something that could actually save lives.

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