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08/23/2018 11:52 EDT | Updated 08/23/2018 11:52 EDT

Daily Electronic Cigarette Users Have Double The Heart Attack Risk: Study

The U.S. study is the first to look at a possible link between e-cigarettes and heart attacks.

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A new American study examined the possible links between heart attacks and daily e-cigarette use.

A new large-scale U.S. study has found that daily e-cigarette use can nearly double the risk of a heart attack compared to those who have never used e-cigs, with the risk even higher for those who also continue to smoke conventional tobacco cigarettes.

Led by researchers at University of California San Francisco along with a team from George Washington University, the study is the first to look at the relationship between e-cigarette use and heart attacks.

For the research the team gathered data from 69,452 participants who were interviewed about their e-cigarette and tobacco cigarette use, and whether they had ever been told by a health professional that they had had a heart attack.

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Bottles of flavored vape juice for electronic cigarettes are displayed for sale at the NXNW Vapor store in Sacramento, California.

The responses showed that from the 9,352 participants who were current or former e-cigarette users, 333 (3.6 per cent) had experienced a heart attack at some point.

This number was even higher for those who smoked e-cigarettes daily, with 6.1 per cent of these participants experiencing a heart attack. The team also found that daily e-cigarette users had around the same odds as a heart attack as those who smoked traditional tobacco cigarettes daily.

The results also showed that using both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes — which was the most common use pattern among e-cigarette users — appears to be even more dangerous than using either product alone. For those who used both types of cigarettes daily, the odds of having had a heart attack were 4.6 times higher compared to those who had never used either product.

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Electronic cigarettes at a production line in a factory in Shenzhen, China.

"Most adults who use e-cigarettes continue to smoke cigarettes," said senior author Stanton Glantz, PhD. "While people may think they are reducing their health risks, we found that the heart attack risk of e-cigarettes adds to the risk of smoking cigarettes."

Although the authors did note that there is a "lasting effect" on health even for former smokers, there is some good news, with the team finding that there appears to be no increased risk of a heart attack for former or sometimes e-cigarette users.

"The risk of heart attack starts to drop immediately after you stop smoking," said Glantz. "Our results suggest the same is true when they stop using e-cigarettes."

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Although e-cigarettes are often promoted as a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, recent research has linked them to a variety of health concern such as cardiovascular and lung disease.

"The only way to substantially reduce the risk of a heart attack is to stop using tobacco," Glantz said.

The findings can be found published online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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