Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are still very new in terms of research. In other words, scientists do not know much about the effects of the electronic cigarette on the body. However, a new journal on electronic cigarettes and heart health, published in the newspaper Cardiovascular health On November 7, 2019, these devices have a disturbing impact on the cardiovascular system, despite the widespread perception that they are safe.

Image Credit: Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock

Image Credit: Aleksandr Yu / Shutterstock

What do electronic cigarettes contain?

Electronic cigarettes are actually electronic devices that fit easily in the hand, like a large USB key, for example. They have a battery-powered vaporizer, which heats a liquid inside the cartridge to vaporize it. This liquid always contains a small amount of nicotine, but may also contain a wide variety of other substances, known and unknown, tested and untested. The difference between cigarettes and e-cigarettes lies in the fact that if they allow some of the typical behaviors of smoking, such as moving the device to the mouth, inhaling steam and exhaling smoke, smoking is not really burned.

Electronic cigarettes often contain particles, metals and various synthetic flavors, cannabinoids and cannabinoid-type synthetic substances. All this could cause heart problems, according to researcher Loren Wold, who cites previous research well established. For example, fine particles (less than 2.5 microns in size) are found in polluted air and easily enter the lungs to enter the bloodstream, where they can have a direct effect on the heart, stiffen arteries and cause inflammation of the airways. the whole body. Data on e-cigarette smoke suggests that this risk is real.

The use of these devices climbed from 7 million in 2011 to more than five times more than in 7 years, to 41 million. By 2021, according to current trends, their number could reach 55 million or more, mainly in the United States, the United Kingdom and France. According to data from 2018, one in five American teenagers vape, which represents a significant share of the global market for electronic cigarettes of nearly $ 20 billion.

Vaping hits the heart

Currently available data, although relatively rare, could support the same conclusions for e-cigarettes. For example, animals and humans have shown that immediately after the use of electronic cigarettes, blood pressure, heart rate, arterial stiffness, inflammatory chemicals in the blood and oxidative molecules such as species Oxygen and nitrogen reagents were increasing. Any of these factors, let alone their combination, can cause heart disease over time.

The short-term effects of vaporization or the use of the electronic cigarette are fairly well understood, at least in some areas, but the methods of study have been very different. Moreover, it is unclear to what extent the prolonged use of the electronic cigarette has consequences for health. Calling this last question "an absolute mystery," Wold says that no one knows how these things will affect the heart.

Unknown danger

The examination is only valid for the small subset of vaping products studied. Obviously, this should lead to more research, on a larger scale and over a longer period. On the other hand, users of electronic cigarettes should also note that these devices are essentially unknown potential hazards. Manufacturers must be required to reveal the exact contents of each device so that users know which toxic beer they will be exposing their delicate lungs. This is a matter that requires urgent regulation as vaping products change every day.

Lead researcher Nicholas Buchanan says many liquids and electronic devices are sold without labeling or legal warning. The diseases and deaths due to vaping are not yet attributed to a single substance. The lack of standardization hinders diagnosis and treatment, and will also prevent further research in the future due to the lack of exposure information relating to many components. used. Wold points out, "We can not assume that ingredients such as propylene glycol, glycerin and flavors, which are inert when ingested orally, have the same effects when they are inhaled. "

Consider the vaping diseases that are currently mystifying America. Many patients reported smoking electronic cigarettes containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), or at least they thought they were smoking. It turns out that in some cases the labels were totally misleading. In addition, the disease has also been reported in some patients who did not smoke any cannabinoids at all.

Implications for young people, babies and second hand vapers

E-cigarettes have attracted many users from two main categories of people: non-smokers attracted by glamor, apparent safety and a wide variety of sweet and fruity flavors; and smokers who are trying to quit smoking. In the latter case, many have taken to heart the danger of smoking for the heart, lungs and brain, as well as the high risk of death from smoking. Unfortunately, many of them turn to vaping to quit, while others reduce their smoking by partially substituting for vaping. But this review casts serious doubt on the validity of this strategy.

Meanwhile, young people are exposed to unexpected and unknown risks for no reason, since many of them would not have started smoking at all. This trend is all the more worrisome as most of the rare health impact research comes from adults who have already smoked traditional cigarettes and mainly deal with the short-term effects of spraying. And as more concentrated electronic liquids are used to emit stronger fumes for a long time, previous results may not be accurate.

And it's not just millions of young people, it's also the babies in the mothers belly vape, and the tens of millions of other people who breathe the secondhand smoke of electronic cigarettes. Animal studies indicate damage to offspring during development. In general, Buchanan says it's just not worth the risk. "Especially for someone who has never smoked, it seems pretty conclusive that you can say that they are not safe."

The European Society of Cardiology stresses that international laws must be put in place to prevent the outbreak of an e-cigarette outbreak, even as the tobacco epidemic begins to falter. Wold summarizes: "Adults are beginning to understand that the effects of vaping on health are not known and that the risk is potentially very high. I fear that it has not been crystallized in adolescents. "

Journal reference:

Nicholas D Buchanan, Jacob Grimer, Vineeta Tanwar, Neill Schwieterman, Peter J. Mohler, Loren E. Wold, Cardiovascular Risk of Electronic Cigarettes: Review of Preclinical and Clinical Studies, Cardiovascular Research, cvz256, https://doi.org/ 10.1093 / cvr / cvz256