A recent study has found that individuals using e-cigarettes may be at higher risk of a life-threatening stroke than traditional cigarette smokers. The findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s International Stroke Conference in Houston, Texas.
E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that turn liquid nicotine into an inhalable vapor. Nicotine is an addictive substance, the reason smokers find it so difficult to quit. The vapor lacks the chemicals and tars of burning tobacco, therefore e-cigarettes were initially considered safer than traditional cigarettes.
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Research involved mice who were exposed to e-cigarette vapor for ten days or 30 days. The mice were found to have greater nerve damage than those exposed to tobacco smoke. Pharmaceutical scientist Ali Ehsan Sifat said that vaping decreases the brain’s uptake of glucose (sugar), which is responsible for fueling brain activity.
Interestingly, both groups had significantly reduced levels of an enzyme required for blood clotting. This could increase the likelihood of chances of a brain hemorrhage.
There are over 100,000 strokes in the United Kingdom (UK) each year, of which 25,000 will prove fatal within 12 months. Survivors may be left with physical disabilities, impaired memory, depression, and difficulty speaking according to The Sun.
Researchers from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said, “Vaping is not safer than tobacco smoking and may pose a similar, if not higher, risk for stroke severity.”
“Stopping smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your heart health, and we know that more and more people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit. However, we need to assess the potential long-term effects of these devices, which is why the BHF (British Heart Foundation) is funding research to find out whether or not they are as safe as people think,” the researchers said.
The rechargeable devices are aimed at helping people quit smoking cigarettes, but have been branded by some as a “gateway to smoking,” with some experts claiming they are encouraging a new generation of smokers. The e-cigarette gives a nicotine hit, but with no tobacco toxins, reports The Mirror.
E-Cigarettes and Nicotine Dangers
A study reported early in February 2017 that e-cigarettes may be just as bad for your heart as smoking regular cigarettes. The study noted that vapers were more likely to show signs of two key heart risk factors, which are known to lead to cardiovascular disease.
Those factors were increased cardiac sympathetic activity (increased levels of the hormone adrenaline in the heart), and increased oxidative stress. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an umbrella term for all diseases of the heart and circulatory system. This includes heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and coronary heart disease.
CVD is the cause of more than 26 percent of all deaths in the UK. That is 160,000 deaths each year, 435 a day, or one death every three minutes, reports The Mirror.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. There are more than 480,000 tobacco-related deaths in the U.S. each year. Forty million American adults smoke.
E-cigarettes were introduced about a decade ago. The devices rapidly spawned a multibillion-dollar business, including vape shops, which sell the devices and often mix the nicotine liquid the devices use. Authorities estimate that approximately nine million American adults currently use e-cigarettes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a dramatic increase in nicotine poisoning incidents. The nicotine liquid can be toxic, even fatal, to children even in small doses. The FDA has received reports of breathing difficulties, chest pain, other cardiovascular problems, and allergic reactions in e-cigarette users.
Chronic nicotine exposure may lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, although this risk may be offset by the well-known appetite suppressant effects of nicotine. Inhaled nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure.
Nicotine may also impair prefrontal brain development in adolescents, leading to attention deficit disorder (ADD) and poor impulse control. These potential harms of nicotine are especially worrisome in view of soaring rates of e-cigarette use in U.S. teenagers, reports Harvard Health Publications.
In May 2016, in a landmark move, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) succeeded in extending federal authority over e-cigarettes. This action resulted in banning their sale to anyone under 18 and requiring adults under 26 to show photo identification, The New York Times reports.
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