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03-09-2012 | Cardiology | Article

E-cigarettes light up battle against adverse effects of smoking


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medwireNews: The use of electronic (e-) cigarettes has no adverse impact on cardiac function, a study suggests.

Konstantinos Farsalinos (Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center, Athens, Greece) and colleagues found that smoking a daily e-cigarette produced only a slight elevation in transmitral Doppler flow parameter MV-A wave velocity from baseline compared with smoking a daily regular cigarette, while all other echocardiographic parameters were not significantly altered.

The findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, Germany, also showed that users of daily regular cigarettes experienced a significant decrease in early diastolic velocity (from 12.1 to 11.5 cm/s) and early diastolic/late diastolic velocity ratio (from 1.29 to 1.20 cm/s) compared with baseline. They also experienced a significant increase in isovolumic relaxation time (from 74 to 84 ms) and myocardial performance index (from 0.39 to 0.43) compared with baseline.

Farsalinos commented in a press statement: "It is too early to say whether the electronic cigarette is a revolution in tobacco harm reduction but the potential is there. It is the only available product that deals with both the chemical (nicotine delivery) and psychological (inhaling and exhaling 'smoke', holding it, etc,) 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."

E-cigarettes produce an inhaled vapor to simulate the effect of smoking. The device consists of a battery, cartridge containing nicotine dissolved in propylene glycol, and a heating element that heats up and evaporates the liquid.

Laboratory analyses of the liquid in e-cigarettes shows it is less toxic than regular cigarettes, and most studies have found it does not contain nitrosamines. In studies where nitrosamines were found, the levels detected were 500-1400 times less than the amount present in one tobacco cigarette. This means that e-cigarettes must be used daily for 4-12 months to reach the same level of nitrosamines present in a single tobacco cigarette.

The study involved 42 healthy volunteers aged between 25 and 45 years, of whom 22 were ex-smokers using the e-cigarette and 20 were regular cigarette smokers. A complete echocardiogram was performed on both groups after 3 hours of abstinence from alcohol, coffee, e-cigarette use, and smoking. A repeat echocardiogram was then performed in e-cigarette users after using an e-cigarette with a nicotine concentration of 11 mg/mL for 7 minutes; and in smokers after smoking one regular cigarette.

Farsalinos concluded: "More clinical studies need to be done before suggesting that this is a revolutionary product. However, considering the extreme hazards associated with cigarette smoking, currently available data suggest that electronic cigarettes are far less harmful and substituting tobacco with electronic cigarettes may be beneficial to health."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Piriya Mahendra, medwireNews Reporter

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