Health risks as­so­ci­ated with use of e-cig­a­rettes

The Independent on Saturday - - HEALTH -

FRESH con­cerns have been raised about the safety of e-cig­a­rettes con­tain­ing nico­tine af­ter re­searchers found they in­crease a symp­tom linked to heart dis­ease.

The va­p­ing de­vices were dis­cov­ered to in­crease the blood pres­sure and heart rate of users.

And the study found that a con­di­tion known as ar­te­rial stiff­ness was three times greater in smok­ers us­ing an e-cig­a­rette con­tain­ing nico­tine than in one with­out nico­tine.

While ex­perts still say e-cig­a­rettes are much health­ier than to­bacco cig­a­rettes, the find­ings high­light that they are still not with­out risks.

Swedish sci­en­tists warned that reg­u­lar va­p­ing with nico­tine liq­uids or be­ing ex­posed to other peo­ple’s vapours could cause last­ing dam­age to blood cir­cu­la­tion. Stiffer ar­ter­ies make it harder for the heart to pump blood round the body – which in­creases strain on the heart and in­creases the risk of dam­age to the heart mus­cle.

The con­di­tion is as­so­ci­ated with high blood pres­sure, coro­nary artery dis­ease, stroke, heart fail­ure and atrial fib­ril­la­tion.

Study leader Dr Mag­nus Lund­back, from the Karolin­ska In­sti­tute in Stock­holm, said: “The num­ber of e-cig­a­rette users has in­creased dra­mat­i­cally in the last few years and (the de­vices) have been mar­keted as ‘al­most harm­less’.

“How­ever, the safety of e-cig­a­rettes is de­bated, and a grow­ing body of ev­i­dence is sug­gest­ing sev­eral ad­verse health ef­fects.

“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.”

The team re­cruited 15 young, healthy vol­un­teers with an aver­age age of 26. All were ca­sual smok­ers on a max­i­mum of 10 cig­a­rettes a month who had not used e-cig­a­rettes pre­vi­ously.

They used e-cig­a­rettes with nico­tine for 30 min­utes on one day and de­vices with­out nico­tine on the other day.

Re­searchers mea­sured blood pres­sure, heart rate and ar­te­rial stiff­ness im­me­di­ately af­ter smok­ing and then two and four hours later, and found an im­me­di­ate in­crease in ar­te­rial stiff­ness.

Lund­back said: “The im­me­di­ate in­crease in ar­te­rial stiff­ness that we saw is most likely at­trib­uted to nico­tine.

“The in­crease was tem­po­rary. How­ever, the same tem­po­rary ef­fects on ar­te­rial stiff­ness have also been demon­strated af­ter use of con­ven­tional cig­a­rettes. Chronic ex­po­sure to both ac­tive and pas­sive cig­a­rette smok­ing causes a per­ma­nent in­crease in ar­te­rial stiff­ness.

“There­fore, we spec­u­late that chronic ex­po­sure to e-cig­a­rettes with nico­tine may cause per­ma­nent ef­fects on ar­te­rial stiff­ness in the long term.

“E-cig­a­rette users should be aware of the po­ten­tial dan­gers of this prod­uct, so they can de­cide whether to con­tinue or quit based on sci­en­tific facts.”

Lund­back crit­i­cised the in­dus­try for tar­get­ing non-smok­ers, in­clud­ing young peo­ple.

How­ever, Pro­fes­sor Peter Ha­jek, di­rec­tor of the To­bacco De­pen­dence Re­search Unit at Queen Mary Uni­ver­sity of London, said ar­te­rial stiff­ness was also true of other stim­u­lants, such as caf­feine. – Daily Mail

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