The Scope

Video: Scientist explains how nicotine in just one e-cigarette can cause changes to the heart

Prolonged e-cigarette can increase the chance of a heart attack.

Electronic cigarettes have become popular over the last couple of years as devices that help smokers quit smoking. Also called e-cigarettes, vapourisers or simply vapes, the nifty gadgets do not contain tobacco, which is known to release several carcinogenic compounds upon combustion. However, e-cigarettes do contain nicotine, which, several doctors and public health specialists fear is equally detrimental to health.

Many such experts wants e-cigarettes banned or strictly regulated because they fear the devices could draw teenagers and non-smokers into smoking.

In fact, a new study from the University of California, Los Angeles has found that nicotine in e-cigarettes can produce significant physiological changes. They showed that healthy non-smokers experienced elevated adrenaline levels after using just one e-cigarette.

The researchers had previously shown that chronic e-cigarette users have increased sympathetic nerve activity, which increases adrenaline directed to the heart and are more susceptible to oxidative stress. These are risks factors for heart attack.

The new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association aimed to find out whether these cardiac risk factors were caused by nicotine or something else associated with e-cigarette use.

Here Dr Holly R Middlekauff, senior study author and professor of cardiology and physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, explains why even though e-cigarettes may help smokers quit tobacco, they can be harmful if used for prolonged periods of time.

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