Vaping may stiffen the heart and blood vessels


Smoking’s ill effects on human health are well known. But electronic cigarettes have only been around for about 15 years. So there hasn’t yet been time to demonstrate any long-term risks. Still, short-term data already point to vaping’s risks to the lungs and DNA. Now a mouse study shows that even brief exposure to e-cigarette vapors hurts blood vessels.

Effects seen in mice after eight months of vaping were striking. Even more concerning: Just five minutes of vaping damaged their blood vessels. These types of injury increase the risk of developing heart disease. The findings therefore add to a growing list of harm being linked to vaping.

I. Mark Olfert works at West Virginia University in Morgantown. As a physiologist, he studies how the body works. His research focuses on the lungs, heart and blood circulation. Doctors in his state have been considering recommending vaping as a way to help their patients quit smoking. This concerned Olfert. When it came to the heart, he notes, “There really wasn’t any information whether e-cigarettes were safe.”

So his team decided to test the effects of long-term vaping in mice. They placed the animals in a chamber filled with e-cigarette vapor for four hours daily. They continued this for eight months. The exposures these mice got was no higher than what an average vaper now experiences, Olfert reports. Mice live for two to three years. So their eight months of vaping was about the same as 20 years of vaping by a human.

Arteries carry blood from the heart to the blood vessels that feed cells in even the most distant tissues of the body. The researchers measured the stiffness of a primary artery running from the heart into the lower chest. Mice exposed to the vapors had arteries that were 2.5 times stiffer than normal. Stiff blood vessels can lead to life threatening heart disease.

E-cig chamber
An e-cigarette device attached to a tube pumps vapors into a lab chamber. Effects seen in mice suggest vaping poses a risk of heart disease.

However, in these tests, just five minutes of vaping also had a…

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