Gustaf Lyytinen, a clinician at Helsingborg Hospital and a researcher at the Karolinska Institute, presented the study, which involved comprehensive trials with a group of people aged 18 to 45 years.
According to research presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, using e-cigarettes containing nicotine immediately increases the formation of blood clots and impairs the ability of small blood vessels to expand and dilate, as well as elevates heart rate and blood pressure.
According to researchers, these effects are comparable to those induced by regular cigarettes and, with prolonged usage, may result in a heart attack or stroke.
Gustaf Lyytinen, a clinician at Helsingborg Hospital and a researcher at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, presented the study. He and his colleagues conducted extensive trials on a group of 22 women and men between the ages of 18 and 45 who were occasional smokers but otherwise in good health.
Each volunteer was examined before and after 30 puffs from a nicotine-containing e-cigarette and before and after 30 puffs from a nicotine-free e-cigarette. These two sets of tests were conducted independently, at least one week apart.
On each occasion, the researchers assessed the participants’ heart rate and blood pressure and took a blood sample prior to, 15 minutes after, and 60 minutes after they used the e-cigarettes. Additionally, researchers conducted experiments to assess any effect on blood circulation through the body’s microscopic blood vessels prior to and 30 minutes after volunteers smoked e-cigarettes. These tests employ a laser to assess the ability of blood vessels in the skin to dilate and thereby regulate the flow of blood throughout the body.
When the researchers compared the findings of the tests, they discovered that using nicotine-containing e-cigarettes resulted in a series of immediate short-term alterations in the participants. Dr Lyytinen and his colleagues discovered that after 15 minutes, blood clots increased by an average of 23 percent and reverted to normal levels after 60 minutes. Additionally, volunteers’ heart rates increased (from an average of 66 beats per minute/bpm to 73bpm) and blood pressure increased (from an average of 108 millimetres of mercury/mmHg to 117mmHg). The researchers discovered that when volunteers smoked nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, their blood arteries grew momentarily narrower.
These effects were not observed in volunteers who used nicotine-free e-cigarettes. Nicotine has been shown to boost the levels of several hormones in the body, including adrenaline, which can result in an increase in the formation of blood clots.
“This study suggests that e-cigarettes containing nicotine can make clots form in users’ blood and make their small blood vessels less adaptable. This is a small study, so we’d like to see more research looking at these effects,” said Jonathan Grigg, Chair, European Respiratory Society Tobacco Control Committee.
“Some people may use e-cigarettes when attempting to quit smoking because they are marketed as being safe, but this study adds to the growing evidence on the harmful effects of e-cigarettes. Other aids to quitting smoking which are evidenced-based and recommended by ERS, such as patches or gum, do not result in the lungs being exposed to high concentrations of potentially toxic compounds.”
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