E-cigarettes cause similar damage to blood vessels as regular cigarettes, suggest the findings from a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association in late April 2020.
The researchers tested vascular function in adults ages 21 to 45 with normal cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels and no known cardiovascular disease. Compared to non-smokers, users of e-cigarettes had similar increases in arterial stiffening and damage to endothelial cells (the cells that line blood vessel walls) as people who smoked traditional (combustible) cigarettes. Such arterial changes are considered “preclinical” measures of cardiovascular injury.
The findings are important because e-cigarettes have been proposed as a less harmful alternative to combustible cigarettes. The study was small, however, with only 36 people who used exclusively e-cigarettes (out of 467 total participants; another 52 people used both e-cigs and regular cigarettes). Larger, longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these vascular effects.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see The Scourge of Vaping.