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06:10 AM

Time: Vaping May Be Worse for Heart Health Than Tobacco

TIME magazine recently interviewed Florian Rader, MD, MSc, medical director of the Human Physiology Laboratory and assistant director of the Non-Invasive Laboratory at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, about new research showing that electronic nicotine delivery systems may be just as harmful to the heart, if not more, than traditional cigarettes.

Rader, senior author of the abstract, presenting the findings recently at the annual American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2019. In addition to TIME, numerous other news outlets covered the story, including NBC News, Healthline and Daily Mail.

Rader told TIME that he and a team of researchers compared the hearts of 10 non-smokers to the hearts of 10 tobacco smokers and 10 e-cigarette smokers. All the people in the study were younger than 40, and all were otherwise healthy.

In response to a mild bout of exercise, measures of blood flow increased in the hearts of the non-smokers. Among the tobacco smokers, this increase was blunted. But among the e-cigarette smokers, there was no increase at all.

“This suggests e-cigarettes cause an abnormality that impedes blood flow regulation in the heart,” said Rader.

This was among the first studies on the heart-health effects of e-cigarettes, though as TIME suggests, some observational studies have found that vaping is associated with a higher risk of heart attack. These findings come at a crucial time, as reports of lung-related e-cigarette injuries are increasing, even while many distributors continue to claim that using e-cigarettes are safe and can help tobacco cigarette smokers kick the habit.

“We have known for decades that smoking increases your risk for heart attack and dying from heart disease," said Christine Albert, MD, MPH, founding chair of the newly established Department of Cardiology at the Smidt Heart Institute in a press release issued by Cedars-Sinai. “Now, with this study, we have compelling evidence suggesting that newer methods of electronic nicotine delivery may be equally, or potentially more, harmful to your heart as traditional cigarettes.”

Given that e-cigarettes represent a relatively new product on the market, Albert cautions users that there may be a number of unforeseen health effects.

And, until researchers better understand those complexities, Rader cautions users.

“What we are learning from our own research, along with the work of others, is that use of any electronic nicotine delivery system should be considered with a high degree of caution until more data can be gathered,” said Rader.

Read the complete story here.

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai blog: 8 Tips to Quit Smoking for Good