American Heart Association: Health risks from e-cigarettes

New scientific statement on the latest data on e-cigarette use

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The health risks caused by the use of e-cigarettes are highlighted by the American Heart Association in a new scientific statement, published today in its leading journal "Circulation".

The statement details the most recent data surrounding e-cigarette use, identifies current health effects, and suggests research priorities to further understand the short- and long-term health effects of e-cigarette use. At the same time, the number of people using e-cigarettes has grown exponentially, especially among young adults. It is noted that e-cigarette use more than doubled from 2017 to 2019 among middle and high school students.

The ingredients in e-cigarettes, including nicotine, flavoring agents, sweeteners, and propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, can each pose significant health risks.

“E-cigarettes deliver numerous substances into the body that are potentially harmful, including chemicals and other compounds that may not be known or understood by the user. There are studies showing that e-cigarettes containing nicotine are associated with acute changes in various hemodynamic measurements, including an increase in blood pressure and heart rate," emphasizes the chairman of the editorial board of the scientific statement and associate professor of medicine at the University School of Medicine of Maryland at Baltimore, Jason Rose.

He adds that "there is also research showing that even when there is no nicotine, the components of e-cigarettes, especially flavoring agents, carry risks associated with heart and lung disease in animals. The negative effects of e-cigarettes have been demonstrated through in vitro studies and in studies of people exposed to chemicals in commercially available products."

The statement's drafting committee refers to the diagnosis of "e-cigarette or vaping product-related lung injury" (EVALI), which was first recognized as a condition by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2019, when there were approximately 2.800 hospitalizations of e-cigarette users in less than a year. In those hospitalizations, vitamin E acetate, a substance used as a thickener in some e-cigarette liquids, was implicated as the likely illness-causing ingredient.

The statement also refers to a recent analysis of the PATH study by the National Institutes of Health and the US Food and Drug Administration, which began in 2013 and is ongoing, which found a statistically significant association between past or current e-cigarette use and the occurrence of respiratory disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema or asthma) within the next two years.

“E-cigarette companies have argued that their products are a way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes. There is no strong evidence to support this beyond any short-term benefit. The lack of long-term scientific safety data on e-cigarette use, along with the potential for addiction to e-cigarette products in young people, are among the reasons why the American Heart Association does not recommend e-cigarette use for smoking cessation efforts.” , says Rose Marie Robertson, deputy head of the Society's scientific and medical service.

The American Heart Association is calling for more research into the long-term effects of e-cigarette use on the heart, blood vessels and lungs of people of all ages. As he notes, studies measuring the effects of e-cigarettes on heart attacks and strokes are limited.

Source: RES-EAP