It is no secret that cigarette smoking is one of the prime factors contributing to cardiac diseases in human beings. The smoke inhaled while using tobacco cigarettes is not just harmful to the lungs, but also to the heart. In fact, heart disease is the main cause for death among smokers – as high as 40% of them die due to coronary artery disease. Of course, smoking as a habit isn’t easy shake off, no matter what the associated hazards are. People have tried various nicotine replacement drugs and therapies, but not all of them have been entirely successful. Recently, however, there has been one product that smokers unanimously vote for, having helped them successfully give up the deadly habit – the electronic cigarette. A smoke-free and tobacco-free alternative, these ‘vaping’ devices allow users to inhale vaporized liquid nicotine. The experience of using a real cigarette is simulated, which keeps smokers happy. E-cigs have been marketed so far as a ‘safer’ or ‘healthier’ means of getting your daily dose of nicotine.
Do e-cigarettes sound too good to be true? Is it really possible that a device so very much like a cigarette could cause no harm to our bodies whatsoever? Well, the truth is that we aren’t entirely sure of this. E-cigs are a very recent invention – they were introduced to the world market by the Chinese in 2003. Since then there has been tremendous speculation regarding their safety of use, and several studies have been conducted that discredit the device and discourage people from using it. However, according to the electronic cigarette industry, these studies don’t hold any truth. Indeed there do seem to be an equal number of studies proving e-cigarettes to be safe for use.
In terms of the effects that e-cigarettes have on the heart, a recent study does give us some information on the subject. According to a research presented in late August by Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos from Greece, at an ESC Congress 2012 press conference, “electronic cigarettes have no acute adverse effects on cardiac function.” The research team had conducted the first-ever study attempting to link e-cigs and heart disease. This was done by comparing the effects of regular and electronic cigarettes on the heart. It is already a known fact through previous research that inhaling smoke in large quantities causes a significant defect in myocardial function. So the study aimed at finding out if a similar group of vapers suffered from symptoms of the same defect.
One study group consisted of 20 regular smokers aged between 25 and 45 years, who were apparently healthy. The myocardial function of these 20 people was measured before and after smoking one tobacco cigarette. Another study group consisted of 22 experienced e-cigarette vapers of the same age group and regularity of use. Data recorded for this group was before and after using the device with an e-liquid concentration of 11 mg/ml, continuously for 7 minutes. Cardiac ultrasound, blood pressure measurements and heart rate measurements were the methods used to record myocardial function.
The results could not have been more conclusive – it was observed that smoking one analog cigarette caused significant myocardial dysfunction but on the other hand, the electronic ones did not have any effect on the heart. With the former, there was also a marked rise in heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. With the latter, however, there was only a slight rise in diastolic blood pressure. According to Dr. Farsalinos, this does indicate that the nicotine from an e-cigarette is absorbed at a much lower rate when compared to tobacco cigarettes. He also added that it was “too early to say whether electronic cigarettes are a revolution in tobacco harm reduction” but that “the potential is there.” More clinical studies need to be conducted before we call the e-cigarette a revolutionary product, he said, but his findings do seem to provide millions of vapers with some good news.