The Rising Use of E-Cigarettes: Unveiling the Health Risks and Controversies

Cardiol Rev. 2024 Feb 22. doi: 10.1097/CRD.0000000000000666. Online ahead of print.


The use of e-cigarettes has tremendously increased in recent times due to the widespread availability of e-cigarettes in diverse flavors, reduced cost compared to regular cigarettes, and misconception of being comparatively safe, which have led to around 2.55 million US middle and high school students smoking e-cigarettes. These devices use a nicotine-rich liquid, which is aerosolized electronically, producing vapors that may also include hazardous chemicals and heavy metals. E-cigarettes are associated with e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury, which presents as an acute respiratory ailment mirroring various pulmonary diseases. Additionally, it causes endothelial dysfunction, alters blood lipid profile by elevating circulating levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, increases sympathetic tone, and is found to correlate with arterial stiffening, hence negatively affecting respiratory, cardiovascular, and overall health. We aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of the data on e-cigarettes and their harmful effects on health in comparison to conventional cigarette use by highlighting the pathophysiology of e-cigarette-induced adverse effects and critically analyzing the data both in favor and against its use. Our review concludes that no matter how much nicotine an e-cigarette contains, evidence shows that using it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, albeit maybe not as much as smoking regular tobacco. Nonetheless, it is crucial to note that the long-term effects of e-cigarette usage are still not fully understood, and existing data have provided opposing viewpoints.