“Heat-not-burn” tobacco products may be harmful to heart

Image shows "heat-not-burn" alternative smoking device with sticks.

“Heat-not-burn” tobacco products, newcomers to the U.S. market that produce nicotine-containing vapor by heating tobacco at low temperatures, may be harmful to the heart, according to a new study. 

Recent headlines have warned consumers about the health dangers of electronic cigarettes or vaping, but there’s little research on the safety of these “heat-not-burn” (HNB) products, which are marketed as a safer alternative to cigarettes for existing smokers. For the study, the researchers reviewed data from dozens of human, animal, and cell culture studies to identify inhalants and potential health threats associated with HNB products.

The researchers found that inhalants—including nicotine and other compounds--in these HNB products are linked to high blood pressure, reduced dilation of blood vessels, stiffening of the arteries, increased heart rate, and reduced heart function. They are also associated with high risk of heart arrythmia in people with pacemakers, the researcher said. Additional research about these products is needed to better understand their effects on the heart, they noted.

The study, funded by NHLBI, appeared in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

Media Coverage

U.S. News & World Report
American Physiological Society press release
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center