Researchers continue to embark upon more studies that compare vaping with smoking. An overlooked study from Greece could provide the most powerful evidence to date that vaping poses less risk to your health. Originally published in 2014, the study specifically addresses the effects of vaping on myocardial function. It was determined that e-cigarettes have far less of an immediate impact on the heart than tobacco.
How Smoking Affects the Cardiovascular System
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the chemicals found in tobacco smoke affect the heart in a number of adverse ways. The most negative affect is that smoking increases the risk of atherosclerosis. This is a condition that results from the build up of plaque in the arteries. This can create blockages and culminate in coronary heart disease. As a result, individuals are at greater risk for a heart attack or stroke.
While atherosclerosis is a more long-term effect, it is also known that smoking can have a more immediate impact on the heart. Specifically, LV or left ventricular function, is negatively affected. The left ventricle is the thickest of the heart’s four chambers and is tasked with delivering oxygenated blood to the tissues of the body. Smoking causes an immediate reduction in the diastolic functions of the heart. A drop in function has even been noted among those who are smoking for the first time.
The Purpose of the Study
This is the first study to examine the acute effects of electronic cigarette use on myocardial function.
Researchers in Greece wanted to determine if the use of vaping devices produced the same immediate alteration of diastolic function. The stated purpose of the study was to examine how the use of a vaporizer for seven minutes impacts myocardial function, and compare those findings with the impact of smoking over the same period of time. This was the first study to specifically address how vaping immediately impacts the workings of the heart.
A total of 76 individuals were selected for participation in the research study. These included 40 vapers, three of which were female. 36 smokers were chosen, and three of these were also female. Smokers were chosen that smoked a minimum of 15 cigarettes a day for the past five years. E-cigarette users were limited to those who had previously smoked cigarettes and quit with the help of a vaporizer. They were required to have been using a vaping device for at least one month prior to the study.
Smokers were asked to use one tobacco cigarette which contained the same yields of nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide. Vapers were given an eGo device and e-liquid that contained 11mg of nicotine. All participants were asked to abstain from tobacco or e-cigarettes for four hours prior to the commencement of the study.
Baseline echocardiographic measurements were conducted on each group. Heart rate and blood pressure were also recorded. After this, the smokers were asked to smoke one cigarette. Vapers were asked to use the vaping device for seven minutes. At the conclusion of the smoking/vaping period, subjects returned to the lab and rested for five minutes before echocardiographic measurements were taken once again.
The Results of the Study
The baseline readings for each group were similar. Researchers first noted that systolic blood pressure and heart rate were elevated in the smokers group after the test. The group of vapers showed no increase. An increase in diastolic pressure was noted in both groups.
Most dramatically, the group of smokers showed significant changes in myocardial function after smoking just one cigarette. A complex system of measurements was used to demonstrate adverse effects on myocardial relaxation among the smokers.
In contrast, researchers noted a complete absence of negative affects among the members of the e-cigarette group. By the measurements used in the study, no adverse LV myocardial function was observed among those who vaped.
The Short Term Efficacy of Vaping
There are some very important takeaways from the referenced study. Chief among these is that one can reasonably conclude vaping offers some short-term advantages for individuals that wish to quit smoking.
Both groups received nicotine. Yet, the group of vapers did not suffer immediate myocardial effects. This seems to uphold vaping as a safe form of nicotine replacement therapy. It should be stated again that the level of nicotine in the e-juice used by participants, 11mg, was moderately high.
More studies are needed in this area, of course, but the initial results would support a conclusion that vaping as an alternative to smoking has an immediate short-term benefit. Nicotine is still delivered to the system to satisfy cravings, but the negative affects are less than those associated with smoking just one cigarette. That could be meaningful to those smokers who are making an effort to cut back in their quest to quit. It seems more beneficial to swap cigarettes for vaping rather than simply reduce the number of cigarettes one smokes.