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Study led by KUSM-W faculty member gains international recognition

February 08, 2019

Person using e-cigarette

By Darcy Gray

A study led by a University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita faculty member is making international headlines for its findings indicating the use of e-cigarettes is associated with an increased risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke.

Paul Ndunda, M.D., author of the study and assistant professor in the KU School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Internal Medicine, presented the research Wednesday in Honolulu during the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.Paul Ndunda, M.D.

In 2016, 3.2 percent of U.S. adults and 11.3 percent of high school students reported using electronic cigarettes in the preceding 30 days. Its use among young people increased by 900 percent between 2011 and 2015.

In the largest study to date examining e-cigarettes and stroke, researchers tapped a database of 400,000 respondents. That database, the 2016 behavioral risk factor surveillance system (BRFSS) survey, collected data from residents in all 50 states about their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions and use of preventive services, the American Heart Association noted in a news release.

"Compared with non-users, e-cigarette users were younger, had a lower body mass index and a lower rate of diabetes," Dr. Ndunda said.

Some 66,795 respondents reported ever regularly using e-cigarettes. The control group was the 343,856 respondents who reported having never used e-cigarettes. Odds ratios were calculated using logistic regression analysis. Researchers found compared with non-users, e-cigarette users had:

  • 71 percent higher risk of stroke.
  • 59 percent higher risk of heart attack or angina.
  • 40 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Double the rate of cigarette smoking.

They also found 4.2 percent of e-cigarette users reported having suffered a stroke. However, the study data did not show deaths attributable to e-cigarette use.

Co-author for the study is Tabitha Muutu, M.D.

KU School of Medicine-Wichita
Last modified: Feb 08, 2019
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