Electronic Cigarettes Affect Our Cardiovascular System

May 14, 2020

By Eva Vitucci

The electronic-cigarette (e-cig) comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and many different flavoring options. While vaping and e-cig use were initially brought into the market as a safer alternative to cigarettes, new studies suggest otherwise. As 27.5% of high school youth continue to vape, an increase in lung disease and breathing difficulty in healthy teens and young adults across the country continues to rise. Studies published out of labs at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have also shown that e-cigs have a negative effect on the body’s immune system. In support of this, other studies demonstrate that smoking e-cigs increases the severity of the flu – an interesting piece of information to think about as COVID-19 spreads through our communities. These examples all support other accumulating evidence suggesting that vaping negatively affects our lungs and is not as harmless as previously advertised.

Unfortunately, hospitalizations of teens and young adults across the country with chest pains and fatigue have also increased with vaping’s popularity. It was only recently that these symptoms became linked to e-cig use as new studies have also demonstrated that vaping e-cigs in non-users, with and without nicotine, have negative effects on the blood vessels of our body. In short, these studies have found that vaping prevents the blood vessels from properly opening, preventing adequate blood flow to important organs like the heart. In addition, these studies found that when the vessels do re-open, that the blood flows through them slower, suggesting e-cig use may cause the blood vessels in our body to become “stickier”. This “sticky” profile, in addition with narrower blood vessels, could promote the formation of blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes depending on how long these conditions last. While these studies noted healthy functions of our blood vessels returning after about an hour, these studies did not address how our blood vessels are affected in users that repeatedly vape. 

As a result there are still many mysteries left to be solved of how long term e-cig use can affect our health, but what is clear is that e-cig use is becoming more dangerous than previously understood. Scientists are continually working to figure out what part of e-cigs induce the negative effects on our bodies. Until then check out these strategies to help minimize the effects e-cigs may have on you or a loved one!

Edited by Rachel Battaglia and Whitney Bell