Nearly one in five nursing home patients use e-cigarettes study finds

Nursing home patients who use e-cigarettes are more likely to continue smoking than those who dont a new study found but smoking is less common among patients with long-term conditions who also can use devices.

E-cigarettes are deviceless or portable electronic devices that users attach to a heating element grid to heat nicotine. Since nicotine exposure in a nursing home increases following discharge these patients constitute a population with a high prevalence of use.

Previous studies have suggested that use of these electronic tobacco devices in the home increases the risk of nicotine dependence including respiratory and cardiovascular issues. But research has tended to focus on patients who dont experience withdrawal suggesting that a very small percentage of patients may be coming in contact with these devices.

With the new family study from Boston Childrens Hospital the researchers led by senior author Yukiko Okano MD associate professor of radiology at Boston University School of Medicine studied 2125 patients at 160 long-term care facilities with chronic staff-patient needs. While 115 of the patients reported using e-cigarettes about 72 reported vaping marijuana or other illicit drugs.

Overall nearly one in five of those who reported vaping had used marijuana or other illicit drugs at some time in their lives.

This was unexpected and our research needs to be quickly addressed before the possibility of other well-documented medical harms from e-cigarettes says the studys lead author Benjamin Fox MD Ph. D. assistant professor of radiology at Boston Childrens.

E-cigarettes are very potent and use strong magnets to deliver nicotine says Fox. We believe that the displays on the front of the devices are tamper-free and therefore one possibility is that someone may have tampered with one or more tobaccovaping devices or a coil by using a wire or other device with a small magnet embedded in it.

Of the nursing home residents studied 10. 8 tested positive for cannabis and 74 volunteered to use cannabis paraphernalia.

When asked what marijuana use looked like four-fifths reported using it throughout the day and eight-fifths used it at least a couple of times a week.

When asked about other substance use the more common use was interactions with illicit drugs herbs food alcohol and smoking. Additional surveys of patients revealed that number of psychological problems linked to cannabis smoking such as mood disorders caused by medication or smoking causes anxiety triggered by the drug or the risky exposure and the need to smoke less was 27 higher than for recreational including marijuana cigarettes and other tobacco products.

We also found some surprising implications says Fox. Not only was use of illicit drugs less common but contribution of such drug use to symptoms was 48 lower in the group who were also nonusers of cannabis.

Figuring out which patients smoked how much consumed cannabis the researchers found the same patients who were also nonusers saw cannabis use 57 more. Also the researchers found the high using rate for marijuana and other illicit drugs was due to patients age the chronic use of marijuana in 1. 8 of them versus 7. 7 of nonusers.

The findings are very significant and indicate that this population may be a determinant of will not only the likelihood of use of these devices but also the frequency with which these devices were used and who used them says the studys senior author Scott Gottlieb MD PhD head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

We believe that the impact of these findings will be seen for many more facilities that provide these devices to patients in hospice and it will be interesting to see if the prevalence of this use has since been lowered with any decreased abstinence tests for illegal drug use among those testing positive for cannabis or illicit drugs Fox says.

Other authors were Nora Vickers Nicole Lovinski Sarah Evers Margarita Nocera Joseph Keith Rosemary Landeros Christina Mortensen Jessica Connelly Robert Turner and Ravi Chakramala.