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  • New research suggests a link between e-cigarette usage and heart failure.
  • The results, due to be presented at the upcoming American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, could form the foundation for a deeper understanding of cardiac risks related to e-cigarette use.
  • Experts caution that this work is at its early stages and that more needs to be done to confirm the findings.

New research has found a possible connection between e-cigarette usage and heart failure.

Researchers harnessed data from the All of Us research program, funded by the National Institutes of Health, which is an effort to garner more insights into the health of Americans. This particular study included 175,667 people located in the U.S. of which 28,660 reported using e-cigarettes.

The research will be presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session, taking place April 6-8, 2024, in Atlanta. The findings have not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

The researchers were from MedStar Health Baltimore and MedStar Georgetown University

In the study, the individuals who reported using an electronic nicotine product had a 19% increase in the risk of heart failure.

In breaking down the risk of heart failure, the study noted a 21% increase in the risk of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), a form of heart failure where the heart muscle fails to relax properly.

Of the 28,660 people who reported e-cigarette use, those who also said they used regular nicotine products saw their risk of heart failure jump by 59%. This study adds to the growing body of evidence that shows risks for smoking both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Of those included, just over 60% were women and the average age was 52 years old.

Michael Broman, MD, PhD, director of non-invasive cardiology at the OSF Cardiovascular Institute and a former assistant professor at the University of Chicago, says this research can help experts understand the risks of vaping.

The NIH study “is looking at everything, all medical problems, and all types of behavioral components, including e-cigarette use and vaping use. So my first thoughts are, it’s good that somebody is doing [a] deep dive into real patients, and looking to see how outcomes might change in people who are using these e-cigarette and vaping products,” Broman said.

Yu-Ming Ni, MD, cardiologist and lipidologist at MemorialCare Heart and Vascular Institute at Orange Coast Medical Center, said that the results “raise an eyebrow” about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes.

“It does make me concerned that what we’ve suspected about e-cigarettes may be true, that they have some harm to themselves related to the nicotine consumption,” Ni said.

While the data presented is concerning, experts who spoke to Healthline for this story said that people should be cautious about making any conclusions about the linkage between heart failure and e-cigarette use.

Ni said that more research needs to be done in order to better understand what might be causing this increased heart failure risk.

“With studies like this where they made observations about people who are e-cigarette users and the development of heart failure, we can never know for certain what the relationship is between those two things,” Ni said. “And we cannot be sure about how it is that new cigarettes predispose someone to heart failure, all we can say is that there is an association between those two things.”

Yakubu Bene-Alhasan, MD, a resident physician at MedStar Health in Baltimore and one of the study’s lead authors, said in a release that he feels this research is filling a gap in knowledge.

“I think this research is long overdue, especially considering how much e-cigarettes have gained traction,” Bene-Alhasan said. “We don’t want to wait too long to find out eventually that it might be harmful, and by that time a lot of harm might already have been done. With more research, we will get to uncover a lot more about the potential health consequences and improve the information out to the public.”

However, how to do that research is another area that needs exploring. According to Broman, traditional trials using humans are ethically impossible due to the nature of e-cigarettes and their risks.

His suggestion is for researchers in future studies to look at the amount of e-cigarette use and the relative risk of heart failure with exposure levels. In comparison, the research that is currently available looked at a strict binary between those using these products and those who were not.

Experts said that it’s important to remember that medical issues stemming from e-cigarette use involve multiple parts of the body, including the lungs, not just the heart. Past research has found that e-cigarette or vaping product use associated lung injury is of increasing concern for medical experts.

Broman said that his advice is to not use e-cigarettes or to vape, due to potential heart and lung issues.

“The fact that we see the elevation in blood pressure and the heart failure…means that regular vaping and e-cigarette use probably most likely, over time will lead to the same types of things that we see with tobacco use,” Broman said.

A new study has found that using e-cigarettes may significantly increase the risk of developing heart failure. Researchers found people who used e-cigarettes may have a 19% increased risk of heart failure.