How Does Vaping Affect Your Heart Health?
How Does Vaping Affect Your Heart Health?
Vaping involves using a handheld electronic device to inhale a mist (“vapor”) into the lungs. For example, a vape pen, electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), mods, or some other electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) heats a mixture of flavoring, nicotine, propylene glycol, and other additives into an aerosol you inhale (as e-liquid mist) via a mouthpiece.
Vaping is similar to smoking a cigarette, but it is different. Vaping heats tiny particles of a liquid instead of burning tobacco, as in smoking. As a result, vaping may cause addiction, respiratory problems, organ damage, and other conditions.
Introduced to the market in 2006, electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), or vapes, are now the most widely used tobacco product among kids and teens. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by 2021, more than two million American middle and high school students had used electronic cigarettes in the previous thirty days.
Likewise, all electronic nicotine delivery systems are also popular among adults: one million and seven hundred thousand American adults used e-cigarettes in 2020.
HOW DOES VAPING FUNCTION?
Vaping works by heating a fluid in a small electronic device so you can inhale it into your lungs. The vape pen, e-cigarette, or other electronic nicotine delivery system heats the substance in the gadget to create an aerosol. This aerosol is not water vapor. Instead, the mist from e-cigarettes (electronic cigarettes) contains particles of flavorings, nicotine, and other airborne substances.
You inhale these particles from a mouthpiece into your mouth, where they travel down your throat and into your lungs.
VAPE PENS OR ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES (E-CIGARETTES)
An electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) is a gadget that heats a substance of nicotine and flavor for you to inhale.
Various electronic cigarettes exist; they go by different names, including vaporizers, electronic hookahs, mods, hookahs, vaporizer sticks or pens, and personal vaporizers (PV). Likewise, people sometimes call all of them electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).
Most types of electronic cigarettes have the following elements:
- A cartridge, capsule, or tank containing a fluid (may be refillable)
- A heating element to convert the liquid into respirable particles (as aerosol, which people commonly call “vapor”)
- A battery to power the heating element
- A control or power button (some activate by sensors whenever you inhale)
- A mouthpiece to inhale the aerosol
HOW DOES VAPING AFFECT YOUR HEART HEALTH?
Investigation from short-term nicotine studies in nonsmokers and young individuals helps shed light on what could happen to your heart if you use electronic cigarettes long-term.
Following are some consequences that can happen to your heart when you vape as a nonsmoker (someone who has never smoked regular cigarettes):
- RISE IN BLOOD PRESSURE AND HEART RATE
When vaping, the nicotine rush will boost your adrenaline levels, which will induce your heart to beat faster and increase your blood pressure, increasing your heart’s need for oxygen (you can feel heart palpitations).
In general, electronic cigarettes may increase heart rhythm abnormalities, linking to heart disease risk. For example, a JAMA Cardiology study published in March 2017 concluded that regular electronic cigarette users had abnormal heart rate patterns similar to tobacco cigarette smokers.
The abnormal heart rate pattern connects with an increased risk of sudden death and heart attack in individuals with and without known heart disease.
However, if electronic cigarettes resemble tobacco cigarettes, your heart rate will return to normal once you stop vaping, but this subject still requires more research.
- INCREASES IN OXIDATIVE STRESS
Individuals who smoked an electronic cigarette for fifteen minutes had significant increases in oxidative stress markers in their immune cells, according to an investigation published in Vascular Health and Risk Management in 2019.
Oxidative stress rises the risk of many diseases, including premature aging, cancer, and heart disease.
- OXIDATIVE STRESS IN BLOOD VESSELS
Oxidative stress in blood vessels is a situation in which damaging free radical oxygen molecules outnumber detoxifying antioxidants. According to a review from Current Atherosclerosis Reports, oxidative stress in blood vessels may lay the grounds for atherosclerosis (the buildup of dangerous plaque that clogs arteries).
Whether the nicotine in electronic cigarettes causes oxidative stress is still unclear; investigations do not have that piece of the puzzle yet.
OTHER HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS IN THE ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE MIXTURE
The aerosol inhaled in electronic cigarettes contains other potentially harmful chemicals, such as the following:
All of the above can cause abnormal heart rhythms and premature atherosclerosis. These chemical levels are much lower compared to tobacco cigarettes. Still, if a large population starts using electronic cigarettes, many individuals will develop health issues, and we will have another public health problem.
VAPING (ELECTRONIC CIGARETTES) AGGRAVATES HEART DISEASE
If you already have high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat, or have been diagnosed with heart disease, nicotine in any electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) is hazardous.
Individuals with coronary artery blockages and congestive heart failure may get worse with nicotine exposure. As a result, these individuals may develop increased signs or symptoms of heart failure or chest pain.
An individual with an arrhythmia (for example, atrial fibrillation) could have an episode because of nicotine triggering it.
VAPING BEATS SMOKING REGULAR CIGARETTES
Even though the nicotine in electronic cigarettes is terrible for you, smoking e-cigarettes is still preferable to regular cigarettes. Smoking tobacco cigarettes is the worst thing anyone can do to their body.
Tobacco smoke contains sixty to seventy carcinogens that e-cigarettes do not have. Although distributors officially do not advertise e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid like gum or nicotine patches, we believe they have the potential to help regular smokers quit as a reduction approach (which could be a useful smoking cessation tool).
Nevertheless, for your heart health, it is wise not to start vaping, even if you think you are young and invincible, and nothing can happen to you, especially if you do not yet smoke.
WAYS TO QUIT VAPING
Quitting vaping may be as hard as quitting smoking. Nicotine is as addictive as heroin. For example, talk to any smoker who has tried to stop, and they will tell you it is the hardest thing they have ever done. To increase your chances of success, the American Heart Association offers a process for quitting smoking and vaping.
If you think your teen or young adult or someone you love is vaping, even occasionally, such as at parties, talk about the risks.
Vaping is easy to hide because it leaves no telltale odor or visible secondhand emissions. In general, to find out what is wrong with your middle school, high school, or even college-aged child, create an environment where it is easier for your child to talk about it.
Instead of asking your teens directly: you are vaping, aren’t you? Instead, ask them nonjudgmental questions, perhaps while driving somewhere, and tell them: I keep hearing about vaping. Do your friends do that? Is it popular at school? What do you think about it? And: How safe do you think it is?
Prepare yourself to hear that vaping is no big deal. Many teens know that cigarettes harm your health, but they think vaping is inconsequential. Many teens do not realize, for example, that all vapes contain nicotine. In 2022, various studies found that one vape may have as much nicotine as an entire pack of cigarettes.
Also, appeal to your teen’s natural rebellion; kids do not like to feel cheated. Finally, talk to teens about how the vape industry manipulates people. For example, you might say that the company is trying to make vaping seem cool so you will get hooked and buy more vapes.
Companies are just trying to make a lot of money from people. And fortunately, that statement drives teens away from vaping more than the adverse health effects.
From accessories to flavors, vaping may seem very appealing. But, unfortunately, it is not as harmless as it appears. We know that nicotine and other ingredients in e-liquids can harm the body, and we do not yet know what long-term health problems vaping could cause.
If you suspect your children or teens are addicted to vaping, programs are available. “This Is Quitting,” for example, is a smoking cessation program developed with the Mayo Clinic that offers a text messaging program to help teens quit electronic cigarettes.
Teens can quickly sign up; the program sends personalized text messages with age-appropriate smoking cessation tips. If you need support, know that you are not alone. There are more online resources and apps that connect you with real counselors to help you on your journey to quit. If you do not vape, do not start.
At Modern Heart and Vascular Institute, we do not try to substitute the medical guidance of your physician.
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This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.