A dad who gave up smoking so he could live a healthier life ended up having a heart attack and cardiac arrest – which he has put down to vaping.
Stephen Davies, 49, ditched cigarettes after 20 years of smoking because he wanted to feel healthier and get better at the fitness activities he enjoys.
For five years the dad-of-four has vaped – but also gone to the gym three times a week as well as playing in a football team and doing 5k runs every week.
But production supervisor suffered a heart attack and cardiac arrest and claims doctors told him the vape is a likely cause.
His discharge notes warn he was “advised to stop vaping”.
Now on the road to recovery, Stephen still has a long way to go to get his fitness levels back to where they were before – and will never pick up a vape pen again.
Stephen from Yeovil, Somerset, said: “I made the decision to quit the fags five years ago because I just wanted to feel healthier and not run out of breath when I worked out.
“I took up vaping because I thought it was the healthier option and would help me wean myself away from the fags.
“The doctor told me they don’t know enough about vaping to know what lasting effect it has on the human body, and advised me to give up vaping as it could be the cause of my heart attack and cardiac arrest.
“I’ve never had problems with my heart in my life, and my wife and I honestly believe my heart attack and my cardiac arrest were caused by my vaping.
“I’ll never vape again and I can’t believe I nearly died when I was just trying to become a healthier version of myself.”
Production supervisor Stephen started smoking in his early 20s and continued to enjoy cigarettes for the next two decades.
Since taking up the dangerous habit, Stephen has had four children and got married to his wife Karolina Davies, 40, making him reevaluate his health.
The hard working dad was already participating in various fitness activities – going to the gym three times a week, playing in a football team and doing 5k runs once a week – but wanted to ditch the fags to improve his health further.
Stephen quit smoking in 2014 and switched to vaping under the belief that it was a healthier alternative.
He used the £25 vape pen containing a 16mg nicotine liquid until 5 April 2019 when he started struggling to breathe.
Stephen said: “I’d started feeling a bit breathless with some jaw pain during the day at work, but I just ignored it.
“When I got home that night, it felt like I had bad indigestion, so I took some Rennies and went to bed early to try and sleep it off.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, unable to breathe and in a huge amount of pain – I was having a heart attack.
“My wife Karolina phoned 999, and whilst I was in the ambulance, I had a cardiac arrest.
“The paramedics had to restart my heart, and it was like waking up from a horrible dream.
“It jolted me up and I felt this awful draining feeling – I knew my heart had stopped, and that was truly terrifying. I thought I was going to die.”
Stephen’s main artery had a blood clot going into the left ventricle of his heart, causing the heart attack and cardiac arrest.
After restarting his heart in the ambulance, Stephen was rushed into the operating theatre of Musgrove Park Hospital.
Cardiac surgeons put a stent into his heart and saved the young dad’s life, although he has been left with heart damage.
Stephen was kept in the hospital for two days until doctors declared him stable enough to leave and he was discharged on 9 April 2019.
In Stephen’s discharge notes, consultant cardiologist Dr Oliver Gosling wrote: “During transfer to Musgrove Park Hospital, patient had ventricular fibrillation arrest with ambulance crew – regained return of spontaneous circulation after one shock.
“Patient underwent primary percutaneous coronary intervention and the first obtuse marginal artery was stented successfully.
“Transthoracic echo showed level of heart failure of 40% with extensive wall motion abnormalities.
“Mr Davies remained clinically stable and was discharged home after being advised to stop vaping and referred for cardiac rehabilitation.”
The previously healthy father is convinced that vaping is the cause of his brush with death and hasn’t picked up a vape pen since his hospital admittance.
Stephen said: “Before my heart attack, I’ve always been healthy – I stayed fit, my cholesterol was really low, I maintained a healthy weight.
“The cardiac consultant Dr Gosling who saved my life told me to stop vaping.
“He told me that although they couldn’t be certain my heart problems were caused by vaping, they also don’t know exactly what lasting effects vaping has on the body.
“He said if I couldn’t give up vaping completely, then at least switch to a liquid with no nicotine in, as it’s the nicotine that stiffens the arteries.
“The doctors couldn’t 100% guarantee it was because I was vaping, but my wife and I swear it was the vape pen that did this to me.
“I had to have rehab for four months afterwards where I did monitored cardio activity to build up heart strength, and I’m paying for extra rehab now to try and get back to where I used to be fitness wise.
“I think I was unlucky. Vaping is still healthier than fags, but if you’re unlucky like me, it can be a killer.”
Clare Boobyer-Jones, smokefree lead at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust,
said: “We cannot comment on the care of individual patients, but the advice given by our clinicians would be tailored to the individual’s needs and medical condition.
“When a patient who smokes enters our hospital, they will be offered support to stop
“We know that lots of smokers would like support to stop and that refraining from
smoking can be very difficult.
“Smokers are four times more likely to stop smoking with the use of nicotine replacement products and NHS support.
“Following advice from Public Health England (PHE) we have recently updated our smoke free policy inside the hospital grounds to allow vaping for those who are currently using this as a way of stopping smoking.
“PHE guidance states that vaping carries a small fraction of the risk of smoking.
“Using a nicotine-containing e-cigarette makes it much more likely someone will quit successfully than relying on willpower alone – three studies this year have found them twice as effective as nicotine replacement therapy alone.
“But it’s important to use UK-regulated e-liquids and never risk vaping home-made or illicit e-liquids or adding substances.”
Rosanna O’ Connor, Director of Drugs, Alcohol, Tobacco and Justice at Public Health
England said: “Our advice remains that while not completely risk free, UK regulated e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of smoked tobacco.”