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E-cigarettes and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease: What Clinicians and Researchers Need to Know


Purpose of Review

Electronic cigarettes, commonly known as electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), e-cigarettes, or vapes, are growing in use and popularity. E-cigarettes are not one distinct type of product. These devices have evolved from the initial “cigarette-alike” designs to larger tank-style devices and most recently, smaller “mod-pods” that can be easily hidden. E-cigarettes can deliver nicotine at levels similar to conventional cigarettes.

Recent Findings

As with conventional cigarettes, e-cigarettes expose users to chemicals and particulates that affect many biological systems including the heart, lungs, and circulation. Most e-cigarettes contain and emit potentially toxic but highly variable substances. Only by using them in total abstinence from combustible tobacco products can users reduce (not eliminate) their exposure to these harmful chemicals. However, most adults smoking e-cigarettes are dual users, meaning they smoke both conventional and e-cigarettes.


This review of the current cardiovascular-specific literature related to e-cigarette use explores what is known (and unknown) about the short- and long-term effects of using these devices. Specifically, the effects of nicotine, oxidizing agents, and particulates in e-cigarettes are examined in the context of cardiovascular and lung health. The goal is to assist clinicians when discussing e-cigarettes with their patients and to help them analyze the impact of use on cardiovascular health. Recommendations are provided related to clinical treatment and research to address gaps in the literature.

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Correspondence to Audrey Darville.

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Audrey Darville and Ellen J. Hahn declare no conflict of interest. Dr. Darville is the President of the Association for the Treatment of Tobacco Use and Dependence (ATTUD), a non-profit professional organization of providers dedicated to the promotion of and increased access to evidence-based tobacco treatment for the tobacco user.

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Darville, A., Hahn, E.J. E-cigarettes and Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease: What Clinicians and Researchers Need to Know. Curr Atheroscler Rep 21, 15 (2019).

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  • E-cigarette
  • ENDS
  • Vaping
  • Nicotine
  • Cardiovascular disease