WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) — A small study suggests that people who use e-cigarettes regularly may face an increased risk for heart disease.
Researchers said they found that 23 e-cigarette users were more likely to have two early indicators of heart risk than 19 people who did not “vape.”
“This is the first study to look at these cardiac risk factors in habitual e-cigarette users. The results were a bit surprising, since it is widely believed that e-cigarettes are less harmful than tobacco cigarettes,” said study co-author Dr. Holly Middlekauff. She is a professor with the division of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Instead, she said, “we found the same types of abnormalities in our e-cigarette users that are reported in tobacco cigarette smokers, and these abnormalities are associated with increased cardiac risk.”
Middlekauff stressed that the study only shows an association, not a cause-and-effect link, between e-cigarette use and increased heart risks. And, because the study did not include traditional cigarette smokers, “we cannot say if the changes are less severe in the e-cigarette users compared to age-matched tobacco cigarette smokers,” she added.
“All we can conclude is that e-cigarette use has real physiologic, adverse effects,” she said. “They are not harmless.”
Electronic cigarettes first became available in the United States in 2006. Since then, their popularity has skyrocketed. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that more than 250 brands of e-cigarettes are now sold, the researchers said.
All the e-cigarette users in the study were healthy and between the ages of 21 and 45. The e-cigarette users had been vaping almost daily for a minimum of one year. None of the participants smoked tobacco cigarettes.
The result: E-cigarette users had a higher risk for oxidative stress, in which so-called “free radical” molecules produced through breathing start to reach potentially harmful levels, the researchers said.
E-cigarettes were also found to have an increased risk for a rise in “cardiac sympathetic activity,” stemming from a boost in the level of hormones produced by the adrenal gland. Ultimately, this can give rise to an increased heart rate and higher blood pressure, the researchers said.
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