Electronic cigarettes: no adverse effects on blood and oxygen supply to the heart
Electronic cigarette use does not cause any immediate adverse effects on coronary circulation and oxygen supply to the heart, according to a new study presented today in the European Society of Cardiology annual congress in Amsterdam.
Researchers at Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, lead by principle investigator Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, evaluated the effects of electronic cigarette use on the maximal ability of the coronary arteries to supply with blood and oxygen the heart itself. They recruited 60 participants, 30 smokers and 30 electronic cigarette users. Measurement of maximal coronary blood flow was performed in smokers before and after smoking 2 cigarettes and, on a separate day, after using an electronic cigarette with 18mg/ml nicotine concentration for 15 minutes. In electronic cigarette users, coronary circulation was evaluated before and after using the same electronic cigarette device for 15 minutes.
“This is the first study that has examined the effects of electronic cigarette use on coronary circulation”, said leading researcher Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos. “We know that smoking has immediate adverse effects, lowering the ability of the coronary arteries to deliver blood to the heart, and our purpose was to test whether electronic cigarette use has similar effects”, he added.
After smoking 2 cigarettes, the researchers observed a 16% reduction in maximal coronary blood flow and a 19% elevation in resistance to flow. However, after electronic cigarette use, no difference in coronary blood flow and resistance was observed compared to the baseline measurement. “The results are impressive and indicate that, unlike tobacco, electronic cigarette use does not affect the oxygenation of the heart”, said Dr Farsalinos. “However, we must be cautious and make clear that this does not mean that there are no implications from long-term use. It is currently impossible to evaluate the effects of long-term use but currently available evidence strongly suggests that electronic cigarettes are by far less harmful alternatives compared to tobacco cigarettes.”
Public health authorities all over the world are evaluating the regulatory status of electronic cigarettes. Lately, the European Commission has proposed a medicinal regulation. Dr Farsalinos said: “Acknowledging the significant potential of electronic cigarettes as smoking alternatives and based on the scientific evidence which clearly indicated that they are much safer, it is important that health authorities will regulate these products in a way that will promote rather than restrict their availability and use by smokers who are unable to quit with currently approved medical methods.”