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Electronic cigarettes and cardiovascular health: what do we know so far?

Authors MacDonald A, Middlekauff HR

Received 2 February 2019

Accepted for publication 29 April 2019

Published 21 June 2019 Volume 2019:15 Pages 159—174


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Konstantinos Tziomalos

Andrea MacDonald,1 Holly R Middlekauff2

1Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA; 2Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Abstract: While tobacco cigarette (TC) smoking has continued to drop to all-time lows, the use of electronic cigarettes (ECs), introduced in the US in 2007, has been rising dramatically, especially among youth. In EC emissions, nicotine is the major biologically active element, while levels of carcinogens and harmful combustion products that typify TC smoke are very low or even undetectable. TCs cause cardiovascular harm by activation of inflammatory pathways and oxidative damage, leading to atherogenesis and thrombosis, as well as through sympathetic activation triggering ischemia and arrhythmia. While ECs are generally believed to be safer than TCs, there remain many uncertainties regarding the overall cardiovascular health effects of EC usage. In this review, we discuss the various components of EC smoke and review the potential mechanisms of cardiovascular injury caused by EC use. We also discuss the controversy regarding the increasing epidemic of youth EC use weighed against the use of ECs as a smoking-cessation aid.

Keywords: electronic cigarettes, cigarette smoking, cardiovascular disease, nicotine

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