E-Cigarettes Not So Bad

Smoking electronic cigarettes may not damage the heart

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) It looks like a cigarette, feels like a cigarette, but doesn't have the tobacco content or familiar smell of regular cigarettes. Rather, these electronic cigarettes come in a variety of flavors that emit water vapor as they simulate the effect of smoking.

And their effects on health are definitely more in favor compared to their tobacco counterparts.

A new study shows that e-cigs do no damage to the heart, a positive feat as they continue to grow in popularity.

"Quit smoking."

Led by Konstantinos Farsalinos, MD, at the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, 42 healthy participants ranging in age from 25 to 45 years old participated in the study. The group included 22 ex-smokers who had been using the e-cigarette at least three months and 20 regular cigarette smokers.

As former tobacco smokers, the e-cigarette group was exposed to cigarette smoke 44 percent more overall compared to current smokers in the other group.

Three hours after participants were instructed to stop drinking alcohol, coffee and smoking their preferred cigarette, they each had a sonogram of their heart, called echocardiography, to examine how it well it looks and functions.

The two groups had the same baseline results and similar blood flow to the brain.

The e-cigarette group then smoked an e-cig containing 11 mg/ml of nicotine for seven minutes while regular smokers smoked one cigarette.

Afterwards, both groups had a second echogram performed on their heart.

The researchers found there was no change in the heart when using e-cigs.

“Diastolic dysfunction is very important because it is usually the first defect that is detected before any clinically-evident cardiac disease develops,” Dr. Farsalinos said.

Smoking e-cigs are on the rise and "could be a potentially useful method for smoking cessation," the authors note.

More research needs to be done "before suggesting that this is a revolutionary product," according to Dr. Farsalinos.

“It is too early to say whether the electronic cigarette is a revolution in tobacco harm reduction but the potential is there," he said.

"It is the only available product that deals with both the chemical and psychological addiction to smoking. Laboratory analyses indicate that it is significantly less toxic and our study has shown no significant defects in cardiac function after acute use.”

The authors do not declare any conflicts of interest. Funding information was not available at the time.

The study was published online in the August edition of the European Heart Journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 29, 2012
Last Updated:
September 4, 2012