Researchers just finished the largest study ever on e-cigarettes and stroke risk, and the results are alarming

Spencer Platt/GettyResearchers concluded using the tobacco products could increase a person’s risks for a variety of heart-related conditions.
  • On Wednesday, researchers at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Honolulu presented the biggest study ever on e-cigarette use and stroke risk.
  • The researchers looked at data for 66,795 e-cigarette users and 343,856 non-smokers, and found that using e-cigarettes could increase a person’s risk for a variety of conditions.
  • Specifically, researchers found e-cigarette use could increase a person’s risk of stroke by 71%, heart attack by 59%, and coronary heart disease by 40%.
  • They were not, however, able to pinpoint how much or how often a person would have to use e-cigarettes to contribute to these risks, Paul Ndunda, lead author of the study, told INSIDER.
  • “This is a preliminary study that calls for larger longitudinal studies that can establish causes and effects,” Ndunda told INSIDER.

Despite the growing popularity of e-cigarettes, existing research on the devices has been small in scope. On Wednesday, however, researchers at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Honolulu presented the biggest study to date on e-cigarette use and stroke risk, which revealed that using these devices to consume tobacco could increase the risk of stroke, as well as heart disease and heart attack.

Researchers used data from the 2016 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), an annual phone survey conducted by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that looks at US citizens’ health risk factors, chronic conditions, and use of health-related services. Specifically, they looked at instances of stroke, heart disease, and heart attack in 66,795 e-cigarette users and 343,856 non-smokers. Based on this information, researchers found a link between e-cigarette use and a heightened risk for the aforementioned conditions.


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Use of e-cigarettes was found to increase a person’s risk of stroke by 71%, heart attack by 59%, and coronary heart disease by 40%. Researchers, however, were unable to pinpoint how much or how often a person would have to use e-cigarettes to lead to increased risks since the data set did not include this information.

Heart AttackShutterstockUsing e-cigarettes could increase a person’s risk of stroke by 71%.

Additionally, because the researchers only looked at survey results and not death records, they were not able to link e-cigarette use to death.

Despite this being the largest study on e-cigarette use and health to date, there are some discrepancies worth noting

As mentioned, researchers were unable to determine how much and how often a person would have to have used e-cigarettes to increase their risk of these health problems. Similarly, they were unable to conclude whether the increased risks were directly related to nicotine or if other components in the e-cigarettes played a role, Paul Ndunda, the lead author of the study, told INSIDER.

“There is variability in e-cigarettes and the dose they deliver of nicotine,” he said, adding that “nicotine isn’t the only thing in these e-cigarettes and different companies manufacture them,” so their ingredients lists can vary widely.


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Additionally, because researchers weren’t able to control for all potential disease contributors, there isn’t a surefire correlation between the devices and specific health risks. Although the researchers were able to control for factors like age, sex, diabetes, smoking status, and body mass index, Ndunda said they weren’t able to control for every potential risk factor in the CDC data set, like healthcare access.

“This is a preliminary study that calls for larger longitudinal studies that can establish causes and effects,” Ndunda told INSIDER.


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While more definitive research on the links between e-cigarette use and health risks needs to be done, these results suggest the trendy devices can significantly impact one’s health.


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