A new study reveals e-cigarettes, considered by many to be a healthier alternative to regular cigarettes, may increase your risk of heart attack and stroke if they contain nicotine. In a medical university in Stockholm, the Karolinska Institute, researchers found that vaping devices that contained nicotine can cause stiffening of the arteries, as well as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
Vaping is currently a billion-pound industry in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and the market continues to grow. E-cigarettes are normally considered to be a stepping stone for people trying to completely quit smoking, but this new study implies that e-cigarettes may be more dangerous than previously thought, according to the Independent web-site.
Researchers Conduct E-Cigarette Study
The researchers enlisted healthy volunteers who had never smoked e-cigarettes before this study. After performing a series of tests, the researchers found that 30 minutes after vaping, the volunteers experienced a significant rise in blood pressure, heart rate, and arterial stiffness. The participants who had smoked e-cigarettes without nicotine did not experience those side effects.
Dr. Magnus Lundback, lead researcher said, “The number of e-cigarette users has increased dramatically in the last few years. E-cigarettes are regarded by the general public as almost harmless. The industry markets their product as a way to reduce harm and to help people to stop smoking tobacco cigarettes. However, the safety of e-cigarettes is debated, and a growing body of evidence is suggesting several adverse health effects.”
Dr. Lundback added, “The results are preliminary, but in this study, we found there was a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure in the volunteers who were exposed to e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Arterial stiffness increased around three-fold in those who were exposed to nicotine-containing e-cigarettes compared with the nicotine-free group.”
The study was relatively small and the effects were temporary
The study was relatively small and the effects were temporary, but Dr. Lundback believes repeated use of e-cigarettes may have permanent effects. Some experts have disputed the study’s results, reports Independent.
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Dr. Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine & consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield said, “Electronic cigarettes are certain to have some health effects, and it is very important that non-smokers do not start using them erroneously thinking that they are harmless. However, the key question is whether they are as harmful as conventional cigarettes, and this seems very unlikely, particularly if they are used as a bridge to quitting all cigarettes completely.”
Dr. Chico added, “Although it is important to understand the effects of electronic cigarettes, this should not detract from the fact that smoking conventional cigarettes reduces life expectancy by ten years and causes chronic diseases that devastate quality of life.”
At the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference in February of this year, researchers suggested that e-cigarettes may raise the risk of stroke more than smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. Inhaling the nicotine vapor produced by an e-cigarette, or vaping, reduced the amount of glucose in the brain, something necessary for neurons. The vapor damages a chemical vital for clotting, also, which make a debilitating brain hemorrhage more likely, reports the (U.K.) Mirror.
Pharmaceutical scientist Ali Ehsan Sifat said that e-cigarette exposure decreased glucose absorption in the brain. Glucose fuels brain activity. “Both e-cig and tobacco smoke exposure for 30 days significantly impaired circulating levels of an enzyme required for clotting – potentially increasing the risk for stroke and worsened secondary brain injury.”
At the center of the debate over e-cigarettes are not only differing views concerning the safety of the device but also different views about the purpose of e-cigarettes. The controversy rests in part on claims that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional tobacco products and may ease the path away from smoking by giving nicotine without the carcinogens and toxins in cigarette smoke.
Young People Drawn to E-Cigarettes
These safety claims have come under increasing scrutiny as e-cigarette use has grown. Public health officials including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are alarmed by the increased use of e-cigarettes by young people. Many teenagers who take up vaping are not doing so as a path to quit smoking. Responses from a recent teen health survey indicate that teenagers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to go on to traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes may prove to be a “gateway” to smoking for a new generation.