Electronic cigarettes – Vaping seriously affects health if combined with smoking

New research shows the harmful effects of vaping and smoking on blood vessels and how combining e-cigarettes with regular cigarettes can increase health risks.

Long-term use of electronic cigarettes can significantly impair the function of the body’s blood vessels and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, using e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes may pose a greater risk than using either product alone. These results of two new studies Certified by the US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The results, published today in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, add to the growing evidence that long-term e-cigarette use can harm people’s health. Researchers have known for years that smoking can damage blood vessels. However, the effects of electronic cigarettes on cardiovascular health are not fully understood. Two recent studies, one in humans and the other in rats, were able to confirm the harmful effects.

Regular e-cigarette users may experience a similar risk of cardiovascular disease as chronic smokers.

The human study found that chronic e-cigarette users have impaired blood vessel function, which can put them at increased risk for heart disease. That is, regular e-cigarette users may experience a similar risk of cardiovascular disease as chronic smokers.

In this initial study, blood samples were collected from a group of 120 volunteers, including long-term e-cigarette users, long-term smokers, and non-users. Researchers defined long-term e-cigarette use as smoking more than five times a week for more than three months, and long-term smoking as smoking more than five cigarettes per day.

They then exposed each of the blood samples to human blood vessel cells (endothelial cells) cultured in the laboratory and measured the release of nitric oxide, a chemical marker used to assess how well these cells were working. They also checked for cell permeability, the ability of molecules to pass through one layer of cells and reach the other. Excessive permeability impairs their function by leaking vessels and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The harmful cardiovascular effects of e-cigarettes differ from tobacco smoke.

The researchers found that the blood of participants who used e-cigarettes and who smoked had a significantly greater reduction in nitric oxide production by blood vessel cells than blood from non-smokers. Specifically, the researchers found that the blood of e-cigarette users caused greater permeability of blood vessel cells than the blood of smokers and non-smokers. The blood of e-cigarette users also had a greater release of hydrogen peroxide, an oxidative molecule from blood vessel cells, from the blood of non-smokers. Each of these three factors may contribute to impaired blood vessel function in people who use e-cigarettes, the researchers said.

The researchers found that e-cigarettes have harmful cardiovascular effects unlike those caused by tobacco smoke. Specifically, they found that circulating biomarkers of cardiovascular risk were different in both conditions. This means that people who consume both products with added effects and a large number of them are at even greater risk.

The damage is caused by irritation of the airways, which triggers biological signals in the vagus nerve.

In the second study, the researchers tried to find out whether certain components of cigarette smoke or e-cigarette vapor were responsible for the damage to blood vessels. In studies on rats, they exposed the animals to various substances found in tobacco smoke or electronic cigarettes. These included the gases nicotine, menthol (a cigarette additive), acrolein, and acetaldehyde (two chemicals found in both tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapor), and inert carbon nanoparticles that represent the nature of the smoke and vapor particles from electronic cigarettes.

Using custom arterial flow measurements, the researchers showed that the damage to blood vessels was not caused by a particular component of cigarette smoke or e-cigarette vapor. Instead, they said, it was caused by airway irritation triggering biological signals in the vagus nerve, possibly leading to blood vessel damage in some way through an inflammatory process.

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in the body and runs from the brain to the airways and plays a key role in heart rate, breathing, and other functions. The researchers showed that nerve disconnection in rats prevented blood vessel damage caused by tobacco smoke, revealing its key role in this process.

The researchers found that there is not a single ingredient that can be removed to stop the harmful effect of smoke or vapors on blood vessels. As long as there is an irritant in the airways, the function of blood vessels is impaired.

The finding has implications for efforts to regulate tobacco products and e-cigarettes, as it highlights how difficult it is to identify any component in them that is responsible for blood vessel damage.

REFERENCE

Chronic E-Cigarette Use Impairs Endothelial Function at Physiological and Cellular Levels

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