Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 22 September 2019

A few puffs on a nicotine-free e-cigarette impedes blood vessel function, study finds

The study was inconclusive but hints at the potentially toxic nature of flavourings

The research reported significant changes in the blood flow within the femoral artery in the leg. Getty
The research reported significant changes in the blood flow within the femoral artery in the leg. Getty

A new study has revealed alarming changes in blood vessel function among healthy people who smoked an e-cigarette for the first time.

The US research, carried out on 31 adults who had never vaped or smoked before, reported significant changes in the blood flow within the femoral artery in the leg. According to the results, published in the journal Radiology on Tuesday, the dilation of the artery was ‘severely blunted’. The changes were reported after each participant smoked a nicotine-free e-cigarette.

Though an MRI scan showed the blood vessel function returned to normal after a few minutes, the author of the study, Felix Wehrli, of the University of Pennsylvania, said evidence suggested long-term use of vaping devices could mimic the processes known to initiate cardiovascular disease.

“After a few minutes, everything normalises. One could say ‘big deal, nothing happens’.

“But if someone vapes regularly, there’s a possibility that, over time, things might not go back to normal as readily.”

That could take years to develop though, Prof Wehrli said.

While several changes were noted shortly after participants inhaled the liquid, including reduced oxygen levels in the blood, researchers could not determine which chemical was responsible for the changes observed.

Though still in its early stages, the study is the most recent addition to a number of research looking at the impact of e-cigarettes on the heart, blood vessels, lungs and brain.

Little is known about the potential toxicity of flavourings, particles and other components used in e-cigarettes, but experts in the UAE have long warned people about the risks vaping could pose to their health.

In a recent story by The National, Fadi Baladi, the medical director of Burjeel Day Surgery Centre in Abu Dhabi, said smokers are just replacing one bad habit with another.

“Vaping may be less harmful, but could still be a health problem in the future,” he said.

“People who are experiencing clinical chronic health problems like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and bronchitis are still having medical issues, despite switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes.”

On Tuesday, the UAE Cabinet announced that e-cigarettes, vaping devices and tobacco refills are to be hit with a 100 per cent tax from January.

The expansion of the 2017 excise tax on tobacco follows the legalisation of the sale of battery-powered smoking devices in mid-April.

Updated: August 21, 2019 01:00 PM

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