Vaping is 'just as bad for the heart as traditional smoking'
E-cigarettes are no safer than traditional cigarettes for the heart, a new study has found.
The findings from the American Heart Association have been described as a ‘big concern’ because so many people have switched from tobacco to vaping because of the perception it is healthier.
Researchers found smoking e-cigarettes has a negative impact on heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels.
It was also found to decrease blood flow in the heart, similar to results among people who smoked traditional cigarettes.
Dr Rose Robertson, deputy chief science and medical officer at the AHA, said: ‘There is no long-term safety data on e-cigarettes.
‘However, there are decades of data for the safety of other nicotine replacement therapies.
‘The AHA recommends people quit smoking using smoking cessation aids that are FDA-approved and proven safe and effective.
‘If people choose to use e-cigarettes as they work to stop smoking other tobacco products, they should also plan to subsequently stop using e-cigarettes because of the lack of information on long-term safety and a growing body of data describing physiologic effects of the components of these devices and the chemical combinations used in them.’
The effects from smoking e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes were compared in two separate studies.
In one study, researchers compared cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels in healthy adult nonsmokers, e-cigarette smokers, traditional cigarette smokers and dual smokers who use both traditional and e-cigarettes.
They found total cholesterol was lower and the bad cholesterol was higher in sole e-cigarette users compared to nonsmokers. Good cholesterol was lower in dual smokers.
Dr Sana Majid, US study author from the Boston University School of Medicine, said: ‘Although primary care providers and patients may think that the use of e-cigarettes by cigarette smokers makes heart health sense, our study shows e-cigarette use is also related to differences in cholesterol levels.
‘The best option is to use FDA-approved methods to aid in smoking cessation, along with behavioural counselling.’
Smoking e-cigarettes was also associated with coronary vascular dysfunction, and the effect might be worse than from smoking traditional cigarettes, according to another study.
In this separate study, researchers analysed heart blood flow, a measure of coronary vascular function, of 19 young adult smokers immediately before and after smoking either e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes.
They examined coronary vascular function by a myocardial contrast echocardiography while participants were at rest and after performing a handgrip exercise to simulate physiologic stress.
Study author Florian Rader, a medical director at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles, US, said: ‘In smokers who use traditional cigarettes, blood flow increased modestly after traditional cigarette inhalation and then decreased with subsequent stress.
‘However, in smokers who use e-cigs, blood flow decreased after both inhalation at rest and after handgrip stress.
‘These results indicate that e-cig use is associated with persistent coronary vascular dysfunction at rest, even in the absence of physiologic stress.’
Co-author Susan Cheng, also from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said the team were ‘surprised’ by their findings.
She said: ‘We were surprised by our observation of the heart’s blood flow being reduced at rest, even in the absence of stress, following inhalation from the e-cigarette.
‘Providers counselling patients on the use of nicotine products will want to consider the possibility that e-cigs may confer as much and potentially even more harm to users and especially patients at risk for vascular disease..’
The new research will be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 in Philadelphia next weekend.
The annual event is a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.
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