E-Cigarettes May Diminish Cardiovascular Function

Long-term exposure to e-cigarette vapor could double the risk of aortic stiffness.

E-cigarettes have been adopted by many individuals, including young adults, as a perceived healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes; however, there is a lack of evidence that these claims are true.

A new study suggests that a single exposure to e-cigarette vapor may result in impaired cardiovascular function, according to results presented at the Cardiovascular Aging: New Frontiers and Old Friends meeting.

In the study, the authors examined the effects of flavored e-cigarette vapor on the cardiovascular function of female mice, who had short- and long-term exposure to e-cigarette vapor. Specifically, the authors examined the blood vessel’s ability to widen, as well as aortic stiffness, which is an age-related complication of the heart and can indicate the development of heart disease.

The authors discovered that 5 minutes of exposure to e-cigarette vapor resulted in artery narrowing by 30% within 1 hour, according to the study. They also noted that the vessel’s ability to widen was diminished.

Mice who were exposed to 20 hours of e-cigarette vapor per week over 8 months were also observed to experience negative cardiovascular effects. These mice were more than twice as likely to develop aortic stiffness compared with control groups exposed to normal air, according to the study.

"These data indicate that e-cigs should not be considered safe and that they induce significant deleterious effects,” the authors wrote.

While more needs to be learned about e-cigarettes and the potential harms they pose, these findings suggest that it may be harmful to the heart. The CDC reports that there is enough evidence to suggest that e-cigarettes should not be used, especially among younger individuals.

E-cigarettes are the most common form of tobacco used by youths in the United States, with many also using traditional cigarettes; however, a CDC/FDA study indicated that the rate of e-cigarette use is declining among school-aged children, suggesting that prevention methods may be effective.

Currently, the CDC recommends that youths should be educated about the potential harms of e-cigarettes and how nicotine may impact brain development.