E-cigarettes Tied to Increased Risk of Heart Disease

A woman using an e-cigarette. A cloud of vapour exits her mouth.

E-cigarettes are marketed as a safe alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes, but a recent study from the University of California, Los Angeles has found evidence that this may not be the case. E-cigarette devices work by vaporizing a liquid mixture containing nicotine, which is in turn inhaled by the smoker. The big advantage over regular cigarettes is that they work without the use of fire and avoid the consumption of some harmful byproducts such as carbon monoxide and tar. Despite these benefits, the study suggests that e-cigarette users may not escape possible adverse cardiovascular effects.

Because nicotine is a strong stimulant, it leads to an excitatory response in the body that can be hazardous in the long term. The researchers found that routine e-cigarette smokers experience increased heart rate as well as more oxidative stress, compared with non-users. These conditions can actually lead to cardiovascular disease, making them a significant health concern.

Little is known conclusively about the physiological changes in e-cigarette users over the course of their lifetime. A spokesperson for the European Society of Cardiology commenting on the study indicated that  further studies are needed to better understand the effects of e-cigarettes and that using these devices to treat nicotine addiction is not as effective as gum or patches and may instead extend the addiction.

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