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Understand the impacts of e-cigarette or vaping associated lung injury (EVALI)

27th July, 2022 | Published by Saltzer Health

Man vaping

The immediate impacts of e-cigarette or vaping-associated lung injury (EVALI) are well known – patients may have trouble breathing, chest pain, nausea, fever, and chills – but new research from Intermountain Healthcare is shedding more light on these injuries, finding that many patients can experience significant chronic issues that persist for a year or more.

Findings from the new Intermountain research, published in the professional journal, Annals of the American Thoracic Society, found that patients who suffered from EVALI had a high risk of developing respiratory disability, cognitive impairment, symptoms of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress one year after their injury.

Intermountain researchers also found that despite the continuing physical impact on their health, more than half of the patients in the study – 62% – continued to vape or smoke.

Results of the Intermountain study are published just as the US Centers for Disease Control released preliminary data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS) showing that electronic cigarette use among U.S. teens continues to rise, with roughly five million reporting vaping within the past month, including 11.3% of high school students and 2.8% of middle school students.

In the Intermountain study, researchers identified 73 EVALI patients treated at Intermountain Healthcare or University of Utah Health, who also completed a 12-month follow-up between July 20, 2020, and August 15, 2021. These patients were mostly male, with a mean age of 31.1 years old. At the time of their injury, 59% did not require admission to an intensive care unit.

At the 12-month follow-up mark with patients, the Intermountain researchers found:

  • 48% of patients had respiratory limitations
  • 59% of patients had anxiety and/or depression
  • 62% of patients had post-traumatic stress
  • 38% of patients had quit all vaping and smoking behaviors
  • 6.4% of patients reported a COVID-19 infection

Patients also reported their own experience of the impact of EVALI, including the impact of healthcare costs via the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey questions. Those findings were presented at the American Thoracic Society Meeting in San Francisco, May 2022.

Highlights of those findings:

  • 13% of patients reported they were unable to work
  • 54% reported they were still paying off healthcare bills
  • 44% reported difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions due to a physical, mental, or emotional condition
  • 24% reported significant shortness of breath
  • 16% reported difficulty with dressing or bathing
  • 35% reported vaping or using e-cigarettes, 20% reported smoking, and 54% reported using marijuana

For more information on the study findings, click here.