Fresh concerns have been raised over the safety of e-cigarettes containing nicotine, after a study has linked their use to one symptom closely related to heart disease.
A team of scientists have found that vaping devices containing nicotine can increase the blood pressure and heart rate of users who are otherwise healthy, and cause blood vessel damage.
A condition named arterial stiffness was three times greater in smokers using an e-cigarette containing nicotine than in one without nicotine.
Study leader Dr Magnus Lundback, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, said:
The number of e-cigarette users has increased dramatically in the last few years and have been marketed as ‘almost harmless’.
However, the safety of e-cigarettes is debated, and a growing body of evidence is suggesting several adverse health effects.
In this study we found there was a significant increase in heart rate and blood pressure in the volunteers who were exposed to e-cigarettes containing nicotine.
The study recruited 15 young, healthy volunteers with an average age of 26. All were casual smokers on a maximum of 10 cigarettes a month who had not used e-cigarettes previously.
They used e-cigarettes with nicotine for 30 minutes every other day, interchanging their devices with ones without nicotine on the other day.
Researchers found an immediate increase in arterial stiffness on the days when smokers had used nictoine-filled devices when they measured blood pressure and heart rate immediately after smoking and then two and four hours later.
Dr Lundback attributed the worrisome albeit temporary change to the presence of nicotine, and warned that users should be aware of the potentially long-lasting damage.
He told MedPage Today:
Our results underline the necessity of maintaining a critical and cautious attitude towards e-cigarettes, especially for health care professionals.
E-cigarette users should be aware of the potential dangers of this product, so they can decide whether to continue or quit based on scientific facts.
The evidence was presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan, where Professor Peter Hajek, director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, also said arterial stiffness was also true of other stimulants such as caffeine.
E-cigarette users can buy cartridges with very low or no nicotine as they attempt to beat their addiction.