ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Smoking, obesity, a poor diet; these are all traditional risk factors of heart disease. However, there is new trend steadily making its way through the population—vaping. In observance of American Heart Month, take time to learn about teen vaping and the heart health risks associated with it.
The use of e-cigarettes is becoming more and more popular, especially in the younger generations. In fact, 90 percent of smokers start before the age of 18. One in four high school students use some sort of e-cigarette device, with males being twice as likely to use them.
Andrea Morris, an Alabama Extension urban SNAP-Ed specialist, said e-cigarettes are luring young people today just like traditional tobacco products did years ago.
“Historically, images of smoking cigarettes have depicted cool people relaxing under a puff of smoke,” Morris said. “Today, teenagers are being lured by similar images with e-cigarettes.”
These sleek, pen-shaped vaping devices often don’t look like traditional cigarettes. Morris said that while the look may have changed, the fact is no tobacco product is safe and the heart health risks are still the same.
“Many teens believe that vaping is safe because of the flavoring in many e-cigarettes, and they don’t look like traditional tobacco products,” she said. “In reality, these devices can contain just as much nicotine, along with other chemicals.”
In fact, e-cigarettes can be just as harmful as traditional smoking. New research indicates that that vaping significantly increased the risk for heart disease in adults, with 56 percent more likely to have a heart attack and 30 percent more likely to suffer a stroke. Smoking can raise blood pressure levels, and damage the heart and blood vessels, which increase the risk for heart conditions such as hardening of the arteries and heart attacks. Exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase a person’s risk of heart disease.
“Behaviors that teenagers adopt now will have an effect on their health as they age,” Morris said.
Benefits of Quitting
According to Morris, there are many health benefits that should encourage teens to quit smoking. Some of these are almost immediate, while others take time to improve.
- In the first 20 minutes: blood pressure and heart rates recover from nicotine-induced spikes.
- Twelve hours after quitting: carbon monoxide levels in blood returns to normal.
- Two weeks after quitting: circulation and lung functions begin to improve.
- One year after quitting: the risk of coronary heart disease reduces by 50 percent.
- Fifteen years after quitting: the risk of coronary heart disease is the same as non-smokers.
Heart Health Tips
Morris said there are several things that teenagers can do every day to improve their overall heart health.
“If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do use tobacco products, quitting that habit is a great step in the right direction,” Morris said. “Other things teenagers can be mindful of is to skip the vending machines and eat fresh fruits and vegetables, replace sodas with water, and exercise at least 60 minutes a day.”