Just 30 minutes of hookah smoking can increase cardiovascular risk, study says

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If you think smoking hookah is safer than cigarettes, you could be wrong, according to a new report.

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Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles recently conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, to determine the cardiovascular risk associated with hookah smoking.

To do so, they measured the heart rate, blood pressure, arterial stiffness, blood nicotine, and exhaled carbon monoxide levels of 48 young adults before and after 30 minutes of hookah smoking. A typical session can last for several hours, they noted.

After analyzing the results, they found that 30 minutes of hookah smoking raised blood pressure levels. It also increased heart rate by 16 beats per minute and significantly upped measures of arterial stiffness, “a key risk factor in the development of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack or stroke,” the authors wrote.

Furthermore, they discovered the increase in arterial stiffness among the hookah smokers in the trial was comparable to that of cigarette smokers.

"Our findings challenge the concept that fruit-flavored hookah tobacco smoking is a healthier tobacco alternative. It is not," coauthor Mary Rezk-Hanna said in a statement.

While the use of cigarettes, which cannot contain artificial or natural flavor, continues to decline, hookah smoking is on the risk especially among college students, they said.

“We know that flavored tobacco products are frequently the first kind of tobacco product used by youth,” Rezk-Hanna said. “One of the major issues with hookah is the fact that the tobacco is flavored with fruit, candy and alcohol flavors, making hookah the most popular flavored tobacco product among this audience.”

Researchers are also concerned that the length of a typical hookah smoking session can potentially increase nicotine levels and other toxins absorbed in the body.

They now hope to continue their investigations to further the explore the effects of hookah in comparison to traditional cigarette smoking.

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