Although many consider e-cigarettes, or vapes, to be a healthier alternative to smoking, new research has shown that not only does it lead people to smoke the real deal, but it also might cause heart problems.

Approximately 9 million Americans use e-cigarettes in order to avoid exposure to smoke, tar and tobacco, but a small study has shown that those who regularly use the alternative smoking device often have more adrenaline in their hearts than is healthy.

A small study conducted at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) looked at 23 people who smoked e-cigarettes most days for the past year and compared them to 19 people who had never smoked either actual cigarettes or those of the electronic variety.

The results found that those who smoked e-cigarettes were more likely to have oxidative stress as well as adrenaline in their heart, which could cause problems, particularly for those who may suffer from heart failure. This can also contribute to cardiovascular stress, which can lead to further problems down the road including major cardiovascular events.

Researchers also found that smoking e-cigarettes lead to “cardiac sympathetic activity,” which could raise blood pressure and increase the user’s heart rate.

While the study was small, researchers say that it does confirm that these alternative to cigarettes, while possibly a bit healthier, are still not completely harmless. They advise that if you are a non-smoker to not begin to smoke e-cigarettes or vapes as it is becoming apparent that they cause damage to the body.

The study, however, did contain a few flaws that makes it difficult to say for sure whether or not the results were accurate. For example, they relied on the e-cigarette users’ self-reporting to track how often they smoked, which is notoriously inaccurate and unreliable. Researchers were able to test participants’ blood for tobacco smoke, making that portion of their study accurate.

Although they are unsure why the body reacts to e-cigarettes in this way, researchers theorize that it is the nicotine within them that creates a rush of adrenaline.

More research is needed to fully understand the effects of e-cigarettes.

The findings were published in JAMA Cardiology on February 1.

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