Presenting the research at the European Respiratory
Society International Congress 2017, Dr Magnus
Lundbäck said: “The number of e-cigarette users has
increased dramatically in the last few years.
E-cigarettes are regarded by the general public as
The results are preliminary, but in this study we
found there was a significant increase in heart rate
and blood pressure in the volunteers who were
exposed to e-cigarettes containing nicotine.
Arterial stiffness increased around three-fold in
those who were exposed to nicotine containing
e-cigarettes compared to the nicotine-free group.”
The e-cigarette industry markets their product as a
way to reduce harm and to help people to stop
smoking tobacco cigarettes.
Dr Lundbäck (MD, PhD), who is a research leader and
clinical registrar at the Danderyd University
Hospital, Karolinska Institute, in Stockholm,
Sweden, and his colleagues recruited 15 young,
healthy volunteers to take part in the study in
The volunteers were seldom smokers (smoking a
maximum of ten cigarettes a month), and they had not
used e-cigarettes before the study.
The average age was 26, and 59% were female, 41%
They were randomised to use e-cigarettes with
nicotine for 30 minutes on one of the study days and
e-cigarettes without nicotine on the other day.
The researchers measured blood pressure, heart rate
and arterial stiffness immediately after smoking the
e-cigarettes and then two and four hours later.
In the first 30 minutes after smoking e-cigarettes
containing nicotine, there was a significant
increase in blood pressure, heart rate and arterial
stiffness; no such effect was seen on heart rate and
arterial stiffness in the volunteers who had smoked
e-cigarettes without nicotine.
“The immediate increase in arterial stiffness that
we saw is most likely attributed to nicotine,” said
“The increase was temporary. However, the same
temporary effects on arterial stiffness have also
been demonstrated following use of conventional
Chronic exposure to both active and passive
cigarette smoking causes a permanent increase in
Therefore, we speculate that chronic exposure to
e-cigarettes with nicotine may cause permanent
effects on arterial stiffness in the long term.
As of today, there are no studies on the long-term
effects on arterial stiffness following chronic
E-cigarette users should be aware of the potential
dangers of this product, so that they can decide
whether to continue or quit based on scientific
He continued: “The marketing campaigns of the
e-cigarette industry target current cigarette
smokers and offer a product for smoking cessation.
However, several studies question the e-cigarette as
a means of smoking cessation, and there is a high
risk of double use, where people use both
e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes.
Furthermore, the e-cigarette industry also targets
non-smokers, with designs and flavours that appeal
to a large crowd, even the very young, and that
carry the risk of a lifelong nicotine addiction.
The e-cigarette industry is expanding on a global
scale. Some calculations suggest that in the USA
alone, the e-cigarette industry will surpass the
conventional cigarette industry within the next few
“Therefore, our research concerns a very large
population and our results may prevent future health
problems for a huge number of people.
It is of the utmost importance to investigate
further the possible long-term effects of daily
e-cigarette use through studies that are funded
independently of the e-cigarette industry.”
Dr Lundbäck and his colleagues are continuing to
investigate the effects of e-cigarettes on blood
vessel and lung functions in humans, as well as
carrying out studies in the lab of the effect of
e-cigarette vapour and liquid on cell cultures.
For more information
ELF - European Lung Foundation