Vaping and High Blood Pressure: Hurt or Help for the Heart?
Vaping and high blood pressure do not seem like two things that might go hand in hand. But for the many people who took part in the exodus from traditional tobacco products to e-cigarettes for health reasons, vaping, and its relation to incidences of high blood pressure might seem germane to each other.
Vaping vs. Smoking
The effects of smoking tobacco on the body are well-known. From the noxious carbon monoxide gas to the cancer-causing chemicals, cigarettes will occupy indefinitely, the number one spot for things that are bad for your health.
The long-term health effects of vaping, however, are still to be studied or determined. This uncertainty is what prevents anti-smoking advocates from recommending e-cigarettes as a suitable aid in quitting smoking.
While most experts can agree that smoking a cigarette and vaping an e-cigarette is not one in the same, they still recognize that there are health risks associated with an e-cigarette. An e-cigarette, after all, acts as a delivery vehicle for nicotine.
The Nicotine Curse
Nicotine and its prevalence in e-liquid juices vaped by vapers are what stains the otherwise clean health record of e-cigarettes. So while the hazards associated with smoking do not occur with vaping, e-cigarettes carry their own health risks and that is partly attributable to nicotine.
These are some of the effects non-smoking nicotine consumption can have on the body:
- Restricted blood vessels
- Raising of heart rate
- Hardening of arteries
- Increased nicotine exposure can lead to Type 2 diabetes
- Increased levels of insulin in the body
- Nicotine is an addictive stimulant, so continual usage can change the brain’s chemistry
- Altered brain chemistry is especially troubling for young people, who might in the future be more susceptible to other addictive behaviors
- Exposure to high concentrations of pure nicotine can be fatal
Something that is lost in the debate on whether e-cigarettes are suitable as nicotine replacement, especially by advocates of vaping, was pointed out by cardiologist Dr. John Ryan of the University of Utah.
Dr. Ryan, perhaps correctly, points out that while e-cigarettes, like other nicotine replacement therapies, can help a person transition from lethal cigarette smoking to mere nicotine ingestion, people continue using e-cigarettes.
While people on NRT’s eventually phase out nicotine altogether, e-cigarettes continue feeding nicotine addiction, and with it, all the other negative effects nicotine has on the body, high blood pressure included. Dr. Ryan also points out that e-cigarettes contribute to the “re-normalizing” of “cigarette smoking, nicotine consumption, and tobacco use.”
Ingesting nicotine is something people do not have to do, Dr. Ryan wisely points out, unlike with eating and regulating food or fat consumption. If ingesting nicotine leads to increased blood pressure, restricting blood vessels and hardening of the arteries, all of which can lead to a heart attack, why continue ingesting nicotine at all, seems to be the question Dr. Ryan wants to ask.
The Heart Will Go On
Advocates of e-cigarettes and vaping always point to how e-cigarettes differ completely from regular tobacco smoking. And in some cases, they are right.
In their eagerness to win over a skeptical public, however, vaping advocates should not paper over the serious health risks, like high blood pressure, associated with continuous nicotine ingestion.
One thing that cigarettes and e-cigarettes have in common is their need for repeat customers.
Advocating e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes is one thing, but it does not make e-cigarette proponents health advocates as well.
The e-cigarette industry still needs customers, and that is entirely understandable. However, someone looking to be free of the risks associated with nicotine should give it up altogether.