Thursday, November 21, 2019

Open Letter to the American Heart Association: #QuitLying

November 20, 2019

Robert Harrington, MD
Arthur L. Bloomfield Professor of Medicine
Stanford University
President, American Heart Association

Dear Dr. Harrington:

On November 15, you reported that the American Heart Association launched a “game-changing research initiative” that “will help us answer critical questions about the health consequences of vaping and nicotine addiction…”  You emphasized an issue important to every health professional and parent: youth e-cigarette use.  And you used an especially relevant but ironic hashtag: #QuitLying.

Your flagship publication, the Journal of the American Heart Association, on June 5, 2019, published a bogus research article, “Electronic cigarette use and myocardial infarction among adults in the US Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health [PATH],” by Dharma N. Bhatta and Stanton A. Glantz (here). 

Drs. Bhatta and Glantz claimed that e-cigarette use caused heart attacks. However, at least 11 of the 38 current e-cigarette users in their study had a heart attack years before they first started using e-cigarettes.

The article in your journal presents falsified results on e-cigarettes and deliberately omits obvious and important information about participants’ ages at first heart attack and first e-cigarette.  The article represents a significant departure from accepted research practices.

I wrote to you with details about the false results on July 11 and July 18, and I urged you to consider an investigation and retraction. 

You failed to provide a substantive response (here) to my letters.  The “game-changing” research question you need to answer about “about the health consequences of vaping” is how e-cigarettes can cause a heart attack many years before people use them.

An organization committed to #QuitLying about e-cigarettes has a professional and moral obligation to adhere to its own principles.  In failing to investigate and address false research, the American Heart Association invites scrutiny pursuant to its own hashtag.


Brad Rodu

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