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New research links side effects of e-cigarettes to a risk of cardiovascular damage, suggesting this is another area of health where vaping appears to have similar negative consequences to tobacco cigarettes.
In findings published last week in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers with the Boston University School of Medicine determined using e-cigarettes damages the arteries in the same way as smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes, and can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
Researchers used data from the Cardiovascular Injury due to Tobacco Use study (CITU), which included data on more than 400 men and women aged 21 to 45 without heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. The study was made up of 94 nonsmokers, 285 users of traditional cigarettes, 36 e-cigarette users, and 52 dual users who used both cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
The study involved noninvasive vascular function testing on participants. Measures of arterial stiffness including carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, augmentation index, carotid-radial pulse wave velocity, and central blood pressures were conducted on participants and differed across the use groups.
All three groups of users, e-cigarette, traditional cigarette, and dual users, had stiffening of the arteries. The only group without artery damage was the non-smokers.
Stiffening of the arteries can damage small blood vessels and lead to heart disease.
Researchers also noted participants who vaped and smoked traditional cigarettes both had endothelial cell damage. Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and can also lead to heart disease and heart problems.
The findings are similar to a study published last year which linked flavors of liquid nicotine to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease through endothelial cell damage and increased inflammation.
People often begin using e-cigarettes because they think they are not as dangerous as traditional cigarettes or as a way to quit traditional cigarettes. However, prior research has shown e-cigarettes may be just as addictive and even harder to quit than traditional tobacco cigarettes.
Researchers believed early on that without the combustion of traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes must be a healthier choice. However, that may not be the case. E-cigarettes allow carcinogenic chemicals into the body that cause the same health effects of tobacco cigarettes.
There is no evidence indicating e-cigarettes lead to less cardiovascular injury or dysfunction than traditional cigarettes. Instead the research indicates the risk for e-cigarettes is just as high as traditional cigarettes, researchers warn.
“Our findings suggest that e-cigarette use is not associated with a more favorable vascular profile,” the researchers concluded. “Future longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate the long-term risks of sustained e-cigarette use.”