Is Vaping Bad for Your Heart and Blood Pressure?

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Kevin Aister DO

May 4, 2020

Vaping, or inhaling vapor from electronic cigarettes and similar devices, is an increasingly popular way to obtain nicotine or to enjoy the flavored vapor. Many people who take up vaping are looking for a ‘healthier’ alternative to combustible cigarettes. Unfortunately, as researchers learn more about this technology, it seems that electronic cigarettes may not be as safe as proponents hope. It’s possible that vaping can have harmful effects on the heart and circulatory system.

Is vaping bad for your heart?

Vaping has only been widespread since the late 2000s. Research, therefore, has taken some time to catch up. When electronic cigarettes were first introduced, they were widely touted as a way for smokers to escape the worst effects of their habit. The early promises made for electronic cigarettes have not been borne out in practice. As more information has come to light, it seems that vaping has several adverse effects. Many of these involve the heart.

Researchers looking at a cohort of 20 young adults with no pre-existing conditions found that blood flow to the heart decreased after vaping. The study compared users of e-cigarettes with users of traditional cigarettes, 10 of each, and found that vaping seems to interfere with the body’s ability to regulate blood flow to the heart.

Does vaping raise blood pressure?

Some research suggests that vaping may be responsible for a rise in blood pressure. After using an electronic cigarette, some studies have found that people’s arteries were stiffer and that blood flow was disrupted. With stiffer, more constricted blood vessels, blood pressure tends to get higher. Researchers have usually looked at the period directly after using an e-cigarette, so the question ‘does vaping cause high blood pressure in the long term?’ may not be answered for a while. That said, constriction of the arteries is never good for the body.

Vaping and heart attack risk

It appears from current research that the news around vaping and the heart is unlikely to be good. It will take some years, perhaps even decades, before anyone can conclusively state that vaping constitutes a risk factor heart attacks. Based on what we do know, however, it is reasonable to theorize that vaping may prove to raise the risk of cardiac issues in long-term users — including heart attacks.

Vaping and lung disease

Vaping is also implicated in lung problems. The worst issues seem to be associated with certain cheap, off-brand products that contained diacetyl and toxic flavoring compounds. Some e-liquids include vitamin E, which is dangerous when inhaled. The worst effects include a condition nicknamed popcorn lung, which involves severe and permanent lung damage. Although the offending flavorings were removed from many e-liquids, there are plenty of other dangerous additives.

In the final analysis, it’s just not realistic to claim that vaping is safer than cigarettes. There is too little information at present. What information we do have seems to indicate that vaping has adverse health effects both in the short and the long term. Ingredients and equipment are often unregulated; e-liquids are often formulated with chemicals known to have toxic effects. Even with ingredients that are generally known to be safe when used as intended, it’s not always clear how safe they will be when vaporized and inhaled. Bear in mind, though, that the dangers associated with vaping don’t mean that you should go back to conventional tobacco products. These are extremely dangerous too.

If you want to give up smoking, there are safer alternatives that you can use to help you. Nicotine gums, patches, sprays, and other products are all safer than e-cigarettes. Should you find yourself struggling to give up conventional cigarettes or e-cigarettes, it’s worth discussing the problem with a medical professional. A pharmacist, nurse, or your family doctor can recommend products and tactics that will make it easier to leave both combustible and electronic cigarettes behind.

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