A new study has found an association between vaping, or the increasingly popular use of e-cigarettes, and negative cardiovascular health outcomes, including increased odds of having a heart attack, developing coronary artery disease or experiencing depression.

The study, which will be presented later this month, is among the first to report such an understudied association and adds to the ongoing debate about whether e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to smoking tobacco.

“These data are a real wake-up call and should prompt more action and awareness about the dangers of e-cigarettes,” Dr. Mohinder Vindhyal, an assistant professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine Wichita and lead author of the study, said in a news release.

The study looked at data submitted by nearly 96,500 respondents in 2014, 2016 and 2017 for the National Health Interview Survey issued by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

It found that e-cigarette users were 34 per cent more likely to have a heart attack, 25 per cent more likely to have coronary artery disease and 55 per cent more likely to suffer from depression, when compared with non-users and after considering other known cardiovascular health risk factors such as age, weight and high blood pressure.

Those who reported using e-cigarettes were on average roughly seven years younger than non-users, the study found.

“When we dug deeper, we found that regardless of how frequently someone uses e-cigarettes, daily or just on some days, they are still more likely to have a heart attack or coronary artery disease,” Vindhyal said.

Researchers said that their study has a number of limitations. For one, it doesn’t prove causation, only an association between any kind of smoking and poor health outcomes. It also does not determine whether these negative outcomes may have occurred prior to using e-cigarettes.

“Cigarette smoking carries a much higher probability of heart attack and stroke than e-cigarettes,” Vindhyal said. “But that doesn’t mean that vaping is safe.”