Medical Moment: How vaping affects heart health

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 3:54 PM EDT
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(WNDU) - According to the CDC, more than 2 million American teens used vape products last year.

25 percent of those teens reported vaping every day. Vaping puts nicotine into the body. Nicotine is highly addictive and can slow brain development in kids and teens and affect memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention, mood, and increase the risk of other types of addiction as adults.

E-cigarettes also irritate the lungs, may cause serious lung damage and even death, and can lead to smoking cigarettes and other forms of tobacco use. Some people use e-cigarettes to vape marijuana, THC oil, and other dangerous chemicals. Besides irritating the lungs, these drugs also affect how someone thinks, acts, and feels.

Now, a new study is showing what happens to the cardiovascular system of adolescents, especially boys, when they vape. Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine are testing the impacts of vaping by using teenage mice.

“We study mice that are three weeks old, so equivalent to 12 to 15 years old,” said Loren Wold, PhD, at Ohio State University.

The researchers expose the mice to an e-cigarette mixture that includes nicotine in a lab enclosure that automatically releases a puff of vape once a minute.

“So, we do this for several hours per day, 5 days a week, and we expose the whole animal,” Dr. Wold explained.

The mice were exposed for two to three months, the equivalent of about 15 years in humans.

“When we exposed the adolescent males, we had significant cardiovascular effects,” Dr. Wold said.

But researchers say the heart function was not impacted at all in the female mice. One theory is the female mice had much higher levels of an enzyme called CYP2A5.

“The theory is that this enzyme being much higher, was able to break the nicotine down much faster,” Dr. Wold said.

A similar enzyme is also present in women. Next, scientists want to learn if that offers women protection from vape-related heart problems.

One of the best ways to start quitting is to take a clear look at how vaping is affecting your life.

Some questions to consider: Is vaping getting in the way of your daily activities? Do you rely on vaping to get through the day? Do you notice vaping affecting your health?

Another way is to build a positive mindset.

Studies show that people who believe that they have the ability to overcome their addiction had higher levels of motivation, commitment, and willpower than those who focused on the permanence of addiction. They also reported fewer setbacks and barriers to quitting.

Other studies show that people with a positive mindset may have fewer cravings, find quitting easier, and are less likely to relapse. You can build a positive mindset through meditation, exercise, and other mindfulness activities. Lastly, is to be prepared.

Quitting vaping can be hard but having a plan and knowing what to expect will set you up for success.

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