Share on Pinterest
Researchers say those who use e-cigarettes are more likely to have a heart attack or a stroke. Getty Images

Having trouble keeping up with the latest research on e-cigarettes? The information seems to be constantly evolving. Well… buckle up.

There’s another new study and this one says e-cigarettes have some far-reaching effects on your health.

Researchers at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita say that when you’re vaping, it’s not just your lungs you have to worry about. It’s also your heart — and your mental health.

Dr. Mohinder Vindhyal, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the Kansas institution, led the team of scientists.

He told Healthline his team discovered some surprising results.

“When you smoke e-cigarettes, you are much more likely to have an MI [myocardial infarction or heart attack], coronary artery disease, stroke, and are more prone to suffer from depression,” Vindhyal said.

The e-cigarette study is being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 68th Annual Scientific Session later this month.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 96,000 people who participated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Surveys in 2014, 2016, and 2017. Those are the years the survey included questions about e-cigarette usage.

The scientists found that, compared with nonusers, e-cigarette users were 56 percent more likely to have a heart attack and 30 percent more likely to have a stroke. Coronary artery disease and blood clot rates were also much higher.

Vapers were also twice as likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and emotional problems.

“These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes,” Vindhyal said.

He went on to say that his team’s research had its limitations.

“Our study cannot establish causation. Our study can only tell if it’s associated or not,” he said. “That is the drawback of a cross-sectional study.”

“The biggest limitation is we do not know if these patients were smokers before, and they have switched to e-cigarettes,” he added. “We also don’t know if they already had any of these outcomes before.”

Healthline reached out to several leading tobacco companies, asking them to respond to the study.

Philip Morris International was the only one to respond.

“This study cannot be used to lead to the conclusion that e-cigarettes cause heart attacks or stroke, something that the authors note in their abstract,” stated a company statement sent to Healthline. “Since the vast majority of e-cigarette users are current or ex-smokers, a more plausible explanation for their findings is that previous cigarette smoking increased the likelihood of these events occurring. Smokers are at higher risk of having cardiovascular problems and this risk does not disappear immediately upon switching to a smoke-free product.”

The statement goes on to say:

“Importantly, the authors also noted in their press release that ‘current cigarette smoking carries a much higher probability of heart attack and stroke than e-cigarettes.’”

“While e-cigarettes and other smoke-free products are not safe or risk-free, they are a better choice than continuing to smoke cigarettes.”

Philip Morris has submitted an application to the Food and Drug Administration to sell IQOS, the company’s electrically heated tobacco product, in the United States.

The University of Kansas study is said to be the largest of its kind, but other researchers have produced similar results.

Last year, in a study from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), researchers found that daily e-cigarette users doubled their risk of having a heart attack.

It also found that people who both vape and smoke conventional cigarettes raise their heart attack risk five-fold.

Stanton Glantz, PhD, a UCSF professor of medicine, is the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research & Education.

He wrote about the new University of Kansas research in a recent blog post.

“This study adds to the growing literature… that people who use e-cigarettes are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes. They also, for the first time, found an association with circulatory problems,” Glantz wrote.

“Beyond showing that e-cigarettes are a lot more dangerous than people used to think (and Public Health England still maintains [their safety]), this growing literature raises serious issues about the claims that e-cigarettes are a good ‘alternative’ to cigarettes, i.e., useful devices for smoking cessation.”

Vindhyal said more longitudinal studies are needed.

But that will take time because e-cigarettes have only been around for slightly more than a decade, so no long-range studies have been able to be conducted.

Still, he said, the results of this study should sound the alarm that “safer may not mean safe.”