Health & Nutrition
Historically, images of smoking cigarettes have depicted “cool” people relaxing under a puff of smoke. Today, teenagers are being lured by similar images with e-cigarettes or what is now widely known as “vaping.”
E-cigarettes are sleek pen-shaped devices that don’t look like traditional cigarettes. Although the look has changed, no tobacco product is safe and the heart health risks are still the same.
Here are some facts you should know about teen vaping and heart disease.
- 1 in 4 high school students use e-cigarettes.
- 90 percent of smokers started before the age of 18.
- Many teens believe that “vaping” is safe because e-cigarettes are flavored and they don’t look like traditional tobacco products. But in reality, they can contain just as much nicotine along with other chemicals.
- Boys are twice as likely to use e-cigarettes than girls.
Heart Health Implications
- Smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels. These factors increase the risk for heart conditions such as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart attacks.
- Nicotine raises blood pressure levels.
- Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen blood can carry.
- Exposure to secondhand smoke can increase the risk for heart disease even among nonsmokers.
Benefits of Quitting
- In the first 20 minutes: blood pressure and heart rates recover from nicotine-induced spikes.
- After 12 hours: carbon monoxide levels in blood returns to normal.
- After two weeks: circulation and lung functions begin to improve.
- After one year: the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced by 50 percent.
- After 15 years: the risk of coronary heart disease is the same as non-smokers.
In addition to quitting smoking, here are some additional heart health tips for teens.
Heart Health Tips
- Skip the vending machines. Bring fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, raisins, or pretzels from home.
- Limit sodas and other sugary beverages. Drink more water instead.
- Exercise at least 60 minutes a day.
For more information, visit www.heart.org or www.myplate.gov. Also, contact Health and Nutrition Specialist Andrea Morris for more information about Alabama Extension heart-healthy programs at (256) 372-8082.