Washington: E-cigarettes have long remained in question for their effects on health. Putting forth answers to these questions, a new study has found growing evidence that vaping can harm the heart and blood vessels.
“Many people think these products are safe, but there is more and more reason to worry about their effects on heart health,” said senior author Loren Wold, director of biomedical research at The Ohio State University College of Nursing and a professor in the College of Medicine.
In addition to nicotine, e-cigarettes contain particulate matter, metals and flavorings – all of which could contribute to cardiovascular problems, said Wold in the study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research.
Fine particles found in air pollution enter the bloodstream and directly affect the heart, and the current data, while far from conclusive, shows that the same may be true for e-cigarettes, he said.
Some studies in animals and humans have documented immediate negative effects including increases in blood pressure, heart rate, stiffness in the arteries, inflammation and oxidative stress. All are linked to heart disease over time.
“We know these problems are seen in these studies looking at the short-term effects of vaping, but that research is inconsistent and the impact of chronic e-cigarette use is an outright mystery. The potential harm to the heart over time is essentially unstudied,” Wold said.
Vaping has increased from around 7 million users in 2011 to 41 million in 2018 with a projected increase to more than 55 million by 2021, according to the World Health Organization.
“Especially for someone who has never smoked, it is just not worth the risk and it seems pretty conclusive that you can say they’re not harm-free,” said study’s lead author, Nicholas Buchanan, a research assistant at Ohio State.
“There’s a vast variety of e-liquids and different devices out there and the manufacturers don’t have to tell you what’s in them,” he said.
“For example, recent reports of vaping-related illnesses and deaths has yet to be narrowed down to a single substance or product. While the use of THC-containing products seems to be associated to these cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the illnesses don’t appear confined to only these types of products,” Buchanan explained.
Because of vaping’s perceived safety in comparison, many smokers have switched to e-cigarettes or a combination of the two.
Other unknowns include the potential impact on the fetus if a mother smokes, and on children and adults who are exposed to secondhand chemicals released by the devices, Wold said.