For many years, we’ve known that smoking has a negative impact on nearly every aspect of health. But what about vaping? Having only recently appeared within the last two decades, e-cigarettes are a newer development. As such, we have less data on how they impact your body, including vein health.
From what we’ve seen so far, however, it’s clear that people who vape have worse vein health than their peers who don’t. Here’s what we know to date.
The Impact of Vaping on Vein Health
Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes affect your body at a cellular level. Most vaping products contain components like nicotine and menthol, as well as other harmful gasses and particles. These substances lead to irritation and inflammation within the body — specifically within the vagus nerve, which promotes blood flow by controlling your heart and lungs. Damage to this important nerve has a cascading effect, leading to impaired blood vessel function: cells in the veins and arteries become leaky and more inflamed, which is associated with a higher risk of blood clots.
Greater Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
If the elevated risk of blood clots isn’t concerning enough, researchers have also determined the blood vessel damage caused by vaping increases other cardiovascular risks, including that of heart disease. As the leading cause of death in the U.S., heart disease is already a major health issue. While other lifestyle factors like diet and exercise can influence your heart disease risk, smoking is one of the biggest factors to avoid.
Varicose Veins & Peripheral Artery Disease
In one small study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania determined that vaping even just once could harm your blood vessels. For their research, 31 healthy, nonsmoking adults were asked to vape using a nicotine-free device. The researchers studied before and after effects, including blood flow. They found that endothelial function, which regulates the blood vessels’ ability to relax and contract, was impaired after vaping.
When this function declines, your veins become thicker, leading to atherosclerosis (a key indicator of cardiovascular risk and a common cause of peripheral artery disease). It also allows the blood to pool in your legs, which can contribute to vein problems like varicose veins. These harmful effects could be a result of breathing in the additives that make their way into your respiratory tract and blood vessels — even when using nicotine-free vaping products.
Bottom Line: Vaping Is Dangerous to Vein & Overall Health
Vaping tends to be perceived as an attractive alternative to cigarette smoking, especially among young users, because there are a variety of flavors available, and the cost per-use is lower than that of cigarettes. The common conception that vaping is less dangerous than traditional smoking can make it compelling for both nonsmokers and current tobacco users, but healthcare professionals warn that they should not be considered a safe alternative.
But there is good news. Like traditional cigarettes, quitting e-cigarettes can improve your health. Smoking cessation allows your body to repair itself and begin the healing process. Within one month of quitting vaping, your lungs begin to heal. Within a year of stopping nicotine use, your blood vessels are restored and heart attack risk is slashed in half.
Vein issues can develop in anyone, including people who have never smoked or vaped. If you’re experiencing an issue related to vein health, allow the experts at Vascular Surgical Associates to help. With experienced specialists and state-of-the-art medical technology, we’re equipped to treat a range of venous conditions with the utmost level of care and precision. Request an appointment online or by calling 770-423-0595.