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Vaping and Heart Health – How Are They Connected?

man vaping

Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon that has been deemed ‘healthier than smoking cigarettes.’ According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, users believe vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking. This, however, is starting to prove false with many stories of users falling ill and suffering from respiratory and heart issues.

What is vaping?

Vaping is a battery powered e-cigarette containing a cartridge filled with a liquid that usually contains nicotine, flavorings, and chemicals like propylene glycol. Once the liquid is heated into an aerosol, the user can inhale its vapours.

Is vaping addictive?

Yes, vaping is addictive. It contains nicotine which is medically proven to be highly addictive and can lead users, particularly adolescents, to progress onto more harmful substances. It can be a gateway to more dangerous habits. Nicotine raises blood pressure and spikes adrenaline, which in turn increases heart rate and the risk of heart attack. The difference between cigarettes and e-cigarettes is that users of e-cigarettes can control the amount of nicotine they are consuming. They purchase extra-strength cartridges and/or increase the e-cigarettes’ voltage to get greater amount of the substance. This can be very dangerous.

Vaping vs. cigarette

While e-cigarette vapour may have fewer toxic substances than cigarette smoke, e-cigarette users are still exposed to nicotine, as well as toxins, metals and contaminants. Non-users around them also may be exposed to these harmful chemicals through the exhaled vapour, known as second-hand vapour. Smoking kills more than 45,000 Canadians each year. It’s one of the most preventable causes of death and disease. Data indicates that adults and kids may be smoking cigarettes less but using e-cigarettes and other tobacco products more. Vaping may help re-normalize tobacco use and get kids started, even leading them to regular cigarettes over time.

E-cigarettes are the most common tobacco product used by adolescents.

Effects of vaping on your heart

Because vaping is relatively new, there are many unknowns, including the composition of the vapour and how it affects one’s physical health over the long-term. What we do know, however, is that early studies suggest that vaping is a huge health risk and can possibly lead to higher risk of heart attack. Nicotine, while highly addictive, is not a significant health hazard for people without heart conditions. It does not cause acute cardiac events or coronary heart disease and is not carcinogenic. Nicotine, however, can have huge health implications for people with heart disease. It raises the heart rate, contradicting the goal of most treatments. A Stanford study also found that e-cigarette flavourings damage human blood vessel cells grown in the lab, even in the absence of nicotine.

The number of vapers is on the rise, especially amongst youth. The proportion of teens who said they had vaped in the previous 30 days rose in Canada from 8.4 per cent in July-August 2017 to 14.6 per cent in August-September 2018, and in the U.S. from 11.1 per cent to 16.2 per cent while remaining stable at just under 9 per cent in the UK. Recently, Illinois officials reported the first death linked to vaping. It was not directly linked to heart disease, but it was linked directly to vaping. As vaping continues to grow in popularity, perhaps it will, one day, be linked to heart related diseases.

Read The Washington Post’s article First death reported from lung illness linked to vaping, officials say.

Nicotine has been and always will be dangerous for your health. If you’re looking for an alternative way to give up smoking cigarettes, speak to your doctor.

Resources:

https://uwaterloo.ca/tobacco-use-canada/e-cigarette-use-canada

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking-tobacco/what-you-need-to-know-about-vaping

https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/e-cigarettes.html

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-truths-you-need-to-know-about-vaping

https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2019/05/e-cigarette-use-and-flavorings-may-increase-heart-disease-risk.html

https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/e-cigarettes

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-teens-vaping/teen-vaping-on-the-rise-in-u-s-canada-idUSKCN1TT31P