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High blood pressure? Quit smoking and switch to vaping.

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Decades of research proves that smoking is a contributing factor to hypertension and high blood pressure, and now the science is showing that switching to vaping can provide significant health benefits. A recent collaborative research project by scientists from Greece and Italy suggests that transitioning to electronic cigarettes offers immediate improvements in systolic and diastolic blood pressure as well as in reducing the overall heart rate.

Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre in Athens, Greece, joined forces with Dr. Richard Polosa of the University of Catania, Italy, to create the study. Entitled, Effect of continuous smoking reduction and abstinence on blood pressure and heart rate in smokers switching to electronic cigarettes, the report is readily available in the Internal and Emergency Medicine journal. Farsalinos is a world-class cardiologist while Polosa is a highly regarded published author of multiple studies related to nicotine addiction and smoking-related illnesses.

Overview of the Farsalinos-Polosa vaping study

The scientific team of Farsalinos-Polosa began their research by soliciting some 211 volunteers to participate in the one-year project. The participants were chosen from a previous 2013 ECLAT study which focuses on the success rates of vaping as an effective tool to quit smoking.

  • 211 participants were categorized into three different groups:
    • High-nicotine vapers
    • Low-nicotine vapers
    • Zero-nicotine vapers
  • The participants were then re-categorized into three additional sub-groups.
    • Quitters: Former-smokers who now only vape.
    • Failures: Smokers who were unable to quit via vaping or who were only able to achieve dual usage of below 50% vaping.
    • Reducers: Dual users who current vape approximately 50 percent of the time.
  • During the 52-week vaping study, biomarkers of each participant were carefully monitored. Biomarkers include:
    • Systolic blood pressure
    • Diastolic blood pressure
    • Heart rate
  • The same three-piece cig-a-like device with disposable cartridges was used by each participant.
  • Of the original 211 participants, 145 exhibited signs of high blood pressure or hypertension at the commencement of the study
  • 66 participants exhibited symptoms of elevated heart rates.

What the Farsalinos-Polosa team discovered is those participants suffering from hypertension, high blood pressure, or elevated heart rates at the beginning of the study showed significant improvements each of the three biomarkers almost immediately after switching to vaping. They also discovered that those who did not show any signs of elevated heart rate, systolic, or diastolic blood pressure at the beginning did not experience increases after switching to vaping, which contradicts many published articles claiming that vaping is bad for the heart.

“When the same analysis was repeated in 66 subjects with elevated BP at baseline, a substantial reduction in systolic BP was observed at week 52 compared to baseline (132.4 ± 12.0 vs. 141.2 ± 10.5 mmHg, p < 0.001), with a significant effect found for smoking phenotype classification. After adjusting for weight change, gender and age, reduction in systolic BP from baseline at week 52 remains associated significantly with both smoking reduction and smoking abstinence. In conclusion, smokers who reduce or quit smoking by switching to e-cigarettes may lower their systolic BP in the long term, and this reduction is apparent in smokers with elevated BP. The current study adds to the evidence that quitting smoking with the use of e-cigarettes does not lead to higher BP values, and this is independently observed whether e-cigarettes are regularly used or not.”

As the above notation suggests, Farsalinos and Polosa were very careful to also consider the body weights, ages, genders, past medical histories, and baseline biomarker levels of each participant when compiling the study’s final conclusions. Since elevated heart rates and high blood pressure can be attributed to a variety of contributing factors, the scientists wanted to ensure the validity of their findings by ruling out other possible influences (other than the switch to vaping) for the dramatic declines. 

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