E-Cigarettes Could Be Even Worse For Your Heart Than Traditional Cigarettes

Electronic nicotine delivery systems—known more commonly as e-cigarettes, though there are others—have been found to be at least as harmful to the heart than traditional cigarettes.  Unfortunately, there is also a chance they may be more harmful than cigarettes, which certainly negates the claims that many make regarding how e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes. 

Presented this week at the annual American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2019, the results of this study adds to a growing preponderance of data pointing at the many health risks of e-cigarettes.  For example, some of the most recent reports show that lung-related e-cigarette injuries are on the rise, even as manufacturers and distributors of these devices continue to defend their safety. 

Specifically, the latest research on healthy, young-adult smokers between the ages of 18 and 38 who regularly smoke tobacco (in any form) found that both types of nicotine delivery device resulted in decrease blood flow. However, in traditional cigarettes, blood flow increases modestly after inhalation and then decreases with subsequent stress; but blood flow decreases both after inhalation and after stress in an e-cigarette smoker.

To put it simply, study author Susan Cheng, MD, MPH, MMsc advises, “Our results suggest that e-cigarette use is associated with coronary vascular dysfunction at rest, even in the absence of physiological stress.  These findings indicate the opposite of what e-cigarette and vaping marketing is saying about their safety profile.”  

Chen is also the director of Public Health Research at the Smidt Heart Institute as well as the director of Cardiovascular Population Sciences at the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center.

The findings are especially important, though, because a recent FDA study found that more than 27 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2019; roughly thirty percent more than in 2018.  Since traditional cigarette use is on the decline, the study essentially warns that the 3.62 million-or-so middle and high school students who use e-cigarettes are at risk for the same issues. 

Lead study author Florian Rader, MD, Msc “What makes e-cigarettes so harmful to the heart and lungs is not just nicotine.”