In case there wasn’t enough of a public health worry over vaping and e-cigarettes, new research adds to the concerns. A new study from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cidars-Senai shows that using vaping products could place a greater harm on the heart than smoking cigarettes or traditional tobacco delivery devices.
“What makes e-cigarettes so harmful to the heart and lungs is not just nicotine,” said senior author Florian Rader said in a statement. “It’s the completely unknown bucket of manufactured products used to form vapors that is likely causing the most harm. This is what we believe is underlying the current public health problem.”
The Cidars-Senai researchers collected measurements of 30 healthy young adults ages 18 to 38, 10 of whom were tobacco smokers, 10 e-cigarette users, and 10 non-smokers. The researchers compared participants’ blood flow to the heart muscle in two different exercises: before and after using nicotine, as well as before and after conducting a handgrip exercises physiologic stress.
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For traditional cigarette users, blood flow increased slightly after smoking while at rest, but decreased following subsequent stress. E-cigarette users, however, saw decreases in blood flow after inhalation, regardless if they were at rest or placed under stress.
“This suggests e-cigarettes cause an abnormality that impedes blood flow regulation in the heart,” Rader told Time.
Rader added that the study was too small in scope to provide any definitive answers about the vaping crisis and what long-term health problems e-cigarettes pose. The researchers also did not control for the use of cannabinoids like THC or CBD. A significant amount of vape use includes these elements and stands at the center of our current vaping crisis.
Still, the study comes at a crucial time for American e-cigarette use. A recent Food and Drug Administration study, cited by the Cidars-Senai researchers, found that e-cigarette use is rising for adolescents. In 2018, 20.8% of high schoolers used e-cigarettes, a figure that has since risen to 27.5% in 2019. Furthermore, the FDA estimated that last year 3.62 million middle and high school students consumed e-cigarettes.