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Cardiovascular autonomic effects of electronic cigarette use: a systematic review.



Electronic cigarettes (ECs) are the fastest growing tobacco product in the USA, and ECs, like tobacco cigarettes (TCs), have effects on the cardiovascular autonomic nervous system, with clinical implications. The purpose of this review was to collect and synthesize available studies that have investigated the autonomic cardiovascular effects of EC use in humans. Special attention is paid to the acute and chronic effects of ECs, the relative contributions of the nicotine versus non-nicotine constituents in EC emissions and the relative effects of ECs compared to TCs.


Using the methodology described in the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) statement, we conducted a literature search of the Ovid PubMed and Embase databases on 6 December 2019 using keywords in titles and abstracts of published literature. Acute (minutes to hours) and chronic (days or longer) changes in heart rate variability (HRV), heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) were used as estimates of cardiovascular autonomic effects.


Nineteen studies were included in this systematic review, all of which used earlier generation EC devices. Acute EC vaping increased HR and BP less than acute TC smoking. Nicotine but not non-nicotine constituents in EC aerosol were responsible for the sympathoexcitatory effects. The results of chronic EC vaping studies were consistent with a chronic sympathoexcitatory effect as estimated by HRV, but this did not translate into chronic increases in HR or BP.


Electronic cigarettes are sympathoexcitatory. Cardiac sympathoexcitatory effects are less when vaping using the earlier generation ECs than when smoking TCs. Additional studies of the latest pod-like EC devices, which deliver nicotine similarly to a TC, are necessary.

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