While often advertised and considered harmless, nicotine and THC free vapes can damage a person’s blood vessels, even after one use. A new study, “Acute Effects of Electronic Cigarette Aerosol Inhalation on Vascular Function Detected at Quantitative MRI” published on August 20th, 2019 by Radiology adds to the continuous research that there is no harmless form of vaping.
E-cigarettes, sometimes called e-cigs, vape pens, JUUL, vapes, mods, tank systems, and e-hookahs, come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most e-cigarettes have a battery, a place to hold liquid, and a heating element. Many people are convinced that by using nicotine-free e-cigarettes, they are just inhaling water vapor. However, flavorings, additives, and solvents in the liquid base are vaporized to particles and exposed deep into the user’s lungs when inhaled. These ultra-small particles are able to pass through the tiny air sacs in the lungs, known as alveoli, and enter the user’s blood vessels.
The researchers of this study wanted to investigate the effects that vaping has on blood vessels and vascular function. To begin the study, the researchers recruited 31 healthy participants between 18 and 35 years old. None of the participants had ever smoked any kind of cigarettes, electronic or regular. Before the study began, each participant’s blood vessels were tested. To test, researchers cuffed the participant’s leg. This restricted blood flow to a large artery in the thigh, known as the femoral artery. After the researchers cuffed the patient’s legs, they administered an MRI scan.
Each participant then took 16 three-second inhalations of an e-cigarette that contained no nicotine. After the puffs, each participant’s leg was cuffed again, and they took another MRI scan. Before the inhalation of the e-cigarette, blood flowed fast when the cuff was released from each participant’s leg. After the vaping experiment, the MRI scans showed the blood flowing slower than before. This effect lasted about an hour after the participants inhaled from the e-cigarettes.
These findings infer that using e-cigarettes can cause notable changes to the inner lining of blood vessels. Slower blood flow causes damage that can become cumulative with consistent use. While you won’t notice immediate issues when vaping, long-term usage could lead to cardiovascular or respiratory damage and potentially cancer. This study provides insight into the negative effects nicotine-free electronic cigarettes have. The researchers did state the need for more research in this area. While the study shows the dangers of short-term effects, there is not a lot of research on long-term effects. However, researchers agree, if these damaging effects happen after a single use, the damage of regular use over the years is likely much worse.
Nicotine-free products are often viewed as harmless, which is concerning for many health physicians, as there is progressively more evidence that this is not the case. The uprise in vaping popularity is growing steadfast. What is more concerning is the popularity of electronic cigarettes amongst teenagers. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the use of electronic cigarettes by high school students has jumped 78% since last year. With research coming out showing how dangerous vaping can be, it is necessary to be concerned about the impact these products have on our bodies, including the heart and lungs.