Long-term use of vaping products can significantly impair the body’s blood vessel functioning, increasing a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease, researchers for two studies supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, reported in October 2022. The researchers also found that combined use of e- and regular cigarettes may increase that risk even further than use of either product alone.

In the first study, researchers demonstrated that smoking either product significantly decreased epithelial cells’ nitric oxide production and that e-cigarettes increased the cells' permeability.

“We found that chronic e-cigarettes users had impaired blood vessel function, which may put them at increased risk for heart disease,” Matthew L. Springer, PhD, principal investigator for both studies, said. “It indicates that chronic users of e-cigarettes may experience a risk of vascular disease similar to that of chronic smokers.”

In the second study, the researchers linked blood vessel damage to airway irritation that triggers biologic signals in the vagus nerve.

“We were surprised to find that there was not a single component that you could remove to stop the damaging effect of smoke or vapors on the blood vessels,” Springer said. “As long as there’s an irritant in the airway, blood vessel function may be impaired.”

As new data emerge on the dangers of e-cigarettes, nurses can advocate for change by supporting regulation and educating patients on the harms of vaping.