E-Cigarettes Take a Dangerous Toll on Heart Health

Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use negatively impacts heart disease risk factors such as cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels, according to new research being presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2019 – taking place November 16-18 in Philadelphia. The findings are based on two separate studies.

In one study, researchers evaluated cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels in 476 participants comprised of healthy adult nonsmokers (n=94), e-cigarette smokers (n=45), traditional cigarette smokers (n=285) and dual smokers (n=52).

The results of the study showed that both total cholesterol and LDL levels were higher among participants who exclusively smoked e-cigarettes juxtaposed to nonsmokers, and that HDL, or good cholesterol, was lower among dual smokers.

To conduct the other study, the researchers analyzed the heart blood flow of 19 young adult smokers between the ages of 24 and 32 both immediately before and after smoking either e-cigarettes or traditional cigarettes. Subsequently, while the participants were at rest and performing exercise to stimulate physiologic stress, the researchers used a myocardial contrast echocardiography to measure their coronary vascular function

The results showed that: “In smokers who use traditional cigarettes, blood flow increased modestly after traditional cigarette inhalation and then decreased with subsequent stress. However, in smokers who use e-cigs, blood flow decreased after both inhalation at rest and after handgrip stress,” said study author Florian Rader, M.D., M.S., medical director of the Human Physiology Laboratory and assistant director of the Non-Invasive Laboratory, Smidt Heart Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles in a press release. “These results indicate that e-cig use is associated with persistent coronary vascular dysfunction at rest, even in the absence of physiologic stress.”

Study author Sana Majid, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow in vascular biology at the Boston University School of Medicine added that:“Although primary care providers and patients may think that the use of e-cigarettes by cigarette smokers makes heart health sense, our study shows e-cigarette use is also related to differences in cholesterol levels. The best option is to use FDA-approved methods to aid in smoking cessation, along with behavioral counseling.”