Vaping adults displayed ‘worrisome changes’ in blood pressure and heart function, study finds | Science & Tech News


People who vape experience “worrisome changes” in their blood pressure and heart rate immediately afterwards, according to a new study.

Researchers assessed the impact of using e-cigarettes among regular users, those who smoke traditional cigarettes, and others who consume no nicotine.

They took measurements of heart rate and blood pressure before and then up to 15 minutes after the almost 400 participants either vaped or smoked.

People who vaped or smoked were found to experience greater increases in both heart rate and blood pressure, whereas those who reported no nicotine use saw no changes.

Regular users of nicotine also experienced worse measures of heart rate variability and a constricted brachial artery, which is the major blood vessel supplying blood to the arms and hands.

This indicates the activation of the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which becomes more active when a person is stressed or in danger, increasing heart rate and blood pressure and upping the heart’s need for oxygen.

“These findings suggest worse cardiovascular disease risk factors right after vaping or smoking,” said lead study author Matthew C Tattersall.

Worse performance on exercise tests

Participants recruited by researchers at the University of Wisconsin were also put through an exercise stress test after 90 minutes.

Those who smoked or vaped performed significantly worse on all metrics, including how quickly heart rate recovered after exercise and how hard the heart had to work at peak levels.

This was found to be the case even after adjusting for age, sex, and ethnicity.

Lead author Christina M Hughey said: “The exercise performance of those who vaped was not significantly different than people who used combustible cigarettes, even though they had vaped for fewer years than the people who smoked and were much younger.”

Who took part in the study?

  • 164 people who only used e-cigarettes for an average of four years
  • 117 people who only used traditional cigarettes for an average of 23 years
  • 114 people who have never smoked or vaped

‘These findings are concerning’

Researchers say the analyses, to be presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions this week, cast doubt on presumptions that vaping is significantly safer than smoking.

E-cigarettes have become a popular stop smoking aid in the UK, contributing to record numbers of people who are actively vaping.

The NHS says while they are not completely risk-free, they carry “a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes” as they don’t produce tar or carbon monoxide.

However, they are not recommended for non-smokers.

James H Stein, principal investigator of the Cardiac and Lung E-cig Smoking Study (CLUES), said: “Our findings from the CLUES study raise concerns about the potential harms of chronic use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, particularly for cardiovascular disease.

“We did not study the long-term effects of vaping, use of vaping as a smoking cessation aid or the effectiveness or safety of vaping in that context. However, these findings are concerning because they indicate vaping may increase cardiovascular risk.”


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