STOCKHOLM, Sweden — The impact smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes has on the heart and lungs often leads to issues with blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes. Now, a new report reveals e-cigarettes containing nicotine do the same thing.
Gustaf Lyytinen, a clinician at Helsingborg Hospital and researcher at the Karolinska Institute, finds vaping products that use the same addictive chemical present in cigarettes lead to the formation of blood clots and the inability of blood vessels to properly expand and dilate. Moreover, the study of casual smokers taking just 30 puffs of an e-cigarette finds a user’s heart rate and blood pressure also shoot upwards after vaping.
The team says these results are similar to the impact of smoking regular, nicotine-filled, tobacco products in the short-term. After long-term use, researchers add smokers of either product are at risk of suffering from heart attacks and strokes.
E-cigarettes’ impact on your blood
Study authors examined 22 healthy men and women between 18 and 45 years-old who reported being occasional smokers. Each person took 30 puffs from an e-cigarette containing nicotine and then 30 puffs from an e-cigarette without nicotine a week later.
Lyytinen’s team collected blood samples before and after each e-cigarette experiment. They also put the group through tests designed to measure blood flow and the circulation of blood through these tiny blood vessels.
On average, study authors discovered a 23-percent spike in blood clots just 15 minutes after using a nicotine-filled e-cigarette. Those levels returned to normal after about an hour. Researchers also saw increases each volunteer’s heart rates, going from an average of 66 beats per minute to 73 beats per minute. Blood pressure also increases, going from 108 millimeters of mercury/mmHg to an average of 117 mmHg.
No safe alternative to quitting smoking?
Conversely, the study did not see the same reaction after participants took 30 puffs from e-cigarettes without nicotine. Previous studies have found a link between nicotine intake and increases in hormones like adrenaline — which can also lead to the formation of blood clots.
“Our results suggest that using e-cigarettes that contain nicotine have similar impacts on the body as smoking traditional cigarettes. This effect on blood clots is important because we know that in the long-term this can lead to clogged up and narrower blood vessels, and that of course puts people at risk of heart attacks and strokes,” Dr. Lyytinen says in a media release.
“The damage caused by smoking traditional cigarettes, including the effects of nicotine on the body, are well-known. E-cigarettes are relatively new, so we know much less about what they do to the body,” adds Jonathan Grigg, Chair of the European Respiratory Society Tobacco Control Committee, who did not take part in the study.
“Some people may use e-cigarettes when attempting to quit smoking because they are marketed as being safe, but this study adds to the growing evidence on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. Other aids to quitting smoking which are evidenced-based and recommended by ERS, such as patches or gum, do not result in the lungs being exposed to high concentrations of potentially toxic compounds.”
Researchers presented their findings at the ERS International Congress.