Image: A new study showed an increase in BP, heart rate and arterial stiffness after smoking e-cigarettes (Photo courtesy of PSU).
Significant increases in blood pressure (BP), heart rate, and arterial stiffness are seen in the first 30 minutes after smoking electronic-cigarettes containing nicotine, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet (KI; Solna, Sweden) recruited 15 young, healthy volunteers (average age 26, 59% female) who were seldom smokers--smoking a maximum of ten cigarettes a month--and who had not used e-cigarettes before the study. Study participants were randomized to use e-cigarettes with nicotine for 30 minutes on one of the study days, and e-cigarettes without nicotine on the other day. The researchers measured BP, heart rate, and arterial stiffness immediately after smoking the e-cigarettes, and then two and four hours later.
The results showed that in the first 30 minutes after smoking e-cigarettes containing nicotine, there was a significant increase in BP, heart rate, and arterial stiffness; no such effect was seen on heart rate and arterial stiffness in the volunteers who had smoked e-cigarettes without nicotine. Importantly, arterial stiffness increased around three-fold in those who were exposed to nicotine containing e-cigarettes. The study was presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, held during September 2017 in Milan (Italy).
“The immediate increase in arterial stiffness that we saw is most likely attributed to nicotine; the increase was temporary. However, the same temporary effects on arterial stiffness have also been demonstrated following use of conventional cigarettes,” said senior author and study presenter Magnus Lundbäck, MD, PhD. “Therefore, we speculate that chronic exposure to e-cigarettes with nicotine may cause permanent effects on arterial stiffness in the long term.”
“The marketing campaigns of the e-cigarette industry target current cigarette smokers and offer a product for smoking cessation. However, several studies question the e-cigarette as a means of smoking cessation, and there is a high risk of double use, where people use both e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes,” concluded Dr. Lundbäck. “Furthermore, the e-cigarette industry also targets non-smokers with designs and flavors that appeal to a large crowd, even the very young, and that carry the risk of a lifelong nicotine addiction.”
Electronic cigarettes consist of a cartridge containing a liquid with a nicotine concentration of 11mg/ml and a battery powered heating element that evaporates the liquid, simulating the effect of smoking by producing an inhaled vapor that is less toxic than that of regular cigarettes. They were first developed by Herbert Gilbert in 1963, but the dawn of the modern e-cigarette is attributed to Chinese pharmacist Hon Lik, who introduced them as a smoking cessation device in 2004.