Roundup: Use of E-cigarettes, or Vaping, Linked to Markedly Higher Risk of Heart Failure; and Other News

New Research Finds Use of E-cigarettes Can ‘Significantly’ Raise Risk of Heart Failure

People who use e-cigarettes, also known as vaping devices, are “significantly more likely to develop heart failure” compared with those who have never used them, states the American College of Cardiology in reference to a new study -- one of the largest to date looking at possible links between vaping and heart failure. The findings are being presented at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session this month.

Heart failure, which can happen at any age but more likely if you’re 65 or older, does not mean the heart stops. It’s when the heart is not pumping as well as it should be. With heart failure, the weakened heart can’t supply the body’s cells with enough oxygen and nutrient-rich blood. An estimated 6 percent of U.S. adults use e-cigarettes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaping is particularly popular among young people. 

Heart failure is a serious condition, and there’s no outright cure. But many people with heart failure lead full and active lives when the condition is managed with a range of available medications  and healthy lifestyle changes. Previous clinical studies have indicated that e-cigarettes can cause serious health issues and can entice young users to try traditional tobacco products. Both cigarettes and vaping devices contain nicotine, which is the ingredient that makes them highly addictive.

“More and more studies are linking e-cigarettes to harmful effects and finding that it might not be as safe as previously thought,” said Yakubu Bene-Alhasan, M.D., a resident physician at MedStar Health in Baltimore and the new study’s lead author, in a statement. “The difference we saw was substantial. It’s worth considering the consequences to your health, especially with regard to heart health.”

For the study, researchers used data from surveys and electronic health records that are port of “All of Us” -- a large, national study of U.S. adults run by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers reviewed associations between e-cigarette use and new diagnoses of heart failure in 175,667 study participants (an average age of 52 years and 60.5 percent female). Of this sample, 3,242 participants developed heart failure within a median follow-up time of 45 months.

The results showed that people who used e-cigarettes at any point were 19 percent more likely to develop heart failure compared with people who had never used e-cigarettes. In calculating this difference, researchers accounted for a variety of demographic and socioeconomic factors, other heart disease risk factors and participants’ past and current use of other substances, including alcohol and tobacco products.

“The researchers also found no evidence that participants’ age, sex or smoking status modified the relationship between e-cigarettes and heart failure,” states the American College of Cardiology.

Eight Alcoholic Drinks Per Week Linked to Increased Heart Disease Risk, Especially in Women

Women who told researchers that they drank eight or more alcoholic beverages per week were “significantly more likely to develop coronary heart disease” than those who drank less, according to a new study by the health system Kaiser Permanente that is being presented at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session this month.

The study’s 432,265 participants were members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC). They were aged 18 to 65, and did not have a history of heart disease or stroke at the beginning of the study in 2014.

All participants were asked about their alcohol use during a primary care visit as part of KPNC’s “Alcohol as a Vital Sign” alcohol screening initiative in primary care, states a news release by KPNC. Researchers then identified which patients had a diagnosis of coronary heart disease in the following four years.

“The study found that young to middle-aged women who reported drinking 8 or more alcoholic beverages per week — more than one per day, on average — were 33% to 51% more likely to develop coronary heart disease compared with those who drank less,” states KPNC researchers in a statement.  The study’s authors said they adjusted the data to account for age, physical activity, obesity, smoking, and other known cardiovascular risk factors.

Coronary artery disease (CAD) accounts for about 610,000 deaths annually (about 1 in 4 deaths) in the U.S., and is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Alcohol has been shown to raise blood pressure and lead to metabolic changes that are associated with inflammation and obesity, both of which increase the risk for heart disease,” said senior author Stacy A. Sterling, DrPH, MSW, a research scientist at the Division of Research at KPNC, in a statement. “Women also process alcohol differently than men due to biologic and physiologic differences, and this may contribute to the increased heart disease risk we found. It’s concerning because there has been an increasing prevalence of alcohol use among young and middle-aged women, including in the number of women who binge drink.”

More Dietary Fiber Can Help Prevent Diabetes Via Improving Gut Bacteria, Researchers Find

There a many well-established benefits to fiber-rich diets that extend to overall heart health, blood sugar control, weight management, and a better functioning gut microbiome. The latest research finds that consuming more dietary fiber may help prevent type 2 diabetes by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and improved metabolism.

The new study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research, focused on Hispanic/Latino adults. Researchers analyzed date on up to 11,000-plus participants in the ongoing Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. Hispanic/Latin adults in the U.S. have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes than the overall population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Consistent evidence suggests diabetes-protective effects of dietary fiber intake, but exactly how that protection occurs remains unclear," said Zheng Wang, M.D., a study co-author and research assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, in a statement.

Discovering the connections between dietary fiber and gut bacteria, metabolites (byproducts of metabolism and type 2 diabetes – a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke and kidney disease – could lead to more effective prevention of the condition, Dr. Wang added.

Preventive therapies could be applied after identifying which bacteria and metabolites in the body are linked to  diabetes risk. Customized diets and treatments would seek to improve gut and metabolic health for people at risk, researchers stated.

The researchers concluded that “higher fiber intake was associated with specific ‘good’ gut bacteria and certain favorable metabolites in the blood – some of which were actually produced by gut bacteria,” according to a news release by the American Heart Association.

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