Harvard Heart Letter

E-cigarettes boost the risk of heart attack

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Electronic cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices that create a nicotine-filled vapor, are often touted as a less-risky alternative to conventional cigarettes. But daily e-cigarette use may nearly double a person’s risk of a heart attack, according to a study in the October 2018 American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The data came from nearly 70,000 people who took part in two National Health Interview Surveys. Compared with nonsmokers, people who smoked regular cigarettes daily nearly tripled their heart attack risk, compared with a nearly doubled risk among people who used only e-cigarettes. However, about two-thirds of current e-cigarette users also smoked regular cigarettes. Using both products daily was linked to a nearly fivefold increase in heart attack risk.

Although e-cigarettes deliver lower levels of carcinogens than conventional cigarettes, each product releases ultrafine particles and other toxins that can damage blood vessels and encourage blood clotting, both of which can promote heart attacks.

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