Vaping increases risk of heart attack, lung damage: Medical association

29 Aug 2019 / 12:40 H.

PETALING JAYA: The nicotine contained in e-cigarettes can spike one’s blood pressure, adrenaline level and heart rate. Over time, this can increase the risk of a heart attack, according to Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Gana Baskaran.

He said nicotine is still the primary agent in e-cigarettes, making vaping highly addictive.

“There is also less smoke when consumed compared with regular tobacco cigarettes, which can make it more appealing,” he told theSun.

“The main component of e-cigarettes is the liquid contained in its cartridges. To create the liquid, nicotine is extracted from tobacco and mixed with a base, and it may also include flavourings, colourings and other chemicals such as formaldehyde and acrolein, which can cause irreversible lung damage.”

The base is usually propylene glycol, a colourless liquid which is nearly odourless with a faintly sweet taste.

Formaldehyde is a naturally occurring chemical that is used in the manufacture of building materials and many household products. It is also used as a disinfectant, and as a preservative in medical laboratories and mortuaries, and is also present in cigarette smoke.

The US Department of Health and Human Services National Toxicology Programme confirmed that formaldehyde is a human carcinogen that can cause cancer.

Gana said regular tobacco cigarettes contain about 7,000 chemicals and are mostly toxic.

While e-cigarettes may contain less chemicals compared with cigarettes, it is still bad, he said.

Like regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes can also cause respiratory illnesses.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 153 possible cases of severe lung disease that were attributed to vaping.

The Minnesota Department of Health said some patients were hospitalised for “multiple weeks”, in some cases ending up in the intensive care unit, with symptoms that included shortness of breath, fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dizziness and chest pains.

“If there is enough evidence available on its harmful effects on health, then it should be either tightly regulated or banned altogether. But then again, there is more than enough evidence on the serious health issues caused by smoking regular cigarettes and yet no ban has been imposed,” Gana said.

On the dangers of second-hand smoke from vaping, Gana said it was difficult to identify other chemicals used in vaping products as there were too many flavours available, making it difficult to pinpoint if the emissions cause any health issues.

He added any kind of chemical-based smoke inhalation can be hazardous to health.

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