Flavoured hookahs are not safer than cigarettes, can lead to heart attack and stroke

Hookah smoking,Cigarette smoking,health

The debate on whether smoking a cigarette or hookah is more harmful for health has been an endless one. However, researchers may have finally found an answer to the same. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, have found that smoking hookah for 30 minutes resulted in the development of cardiovascular risk factors similar to that of cigarette smoking, thereby implying that smoking hookah is more hazardous to one’s health.

They measured heart rate, blood pressure, arterial stiffness, blood nicotine and exhaled carbon monoxide levels in 48 healthy, young hookah smokers before and after 30 minutes of smoking. It was found that a single session of hookah smoking increased heart rate by 16 beats per minute and blood pressure; and significantly increased measures of arterial stiffness, a key risk factor in the development of cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

The increase in arterial stiffness was comparable to data seen from cigarette smokers after smoking a cigarette. “Our findings challenge the concept that fruit-flavored hookah tobacco smoking is a healthier tobacco alternative. It is not,” said Mary Rezk-Hanna, a lead researcher.

Studies revealed that as cigarette usage continues to decline, hookah smoking is rising, especially among college students. “We know that flavoured 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 flavoured with fruit, candy and alcohol flavours, making hookah the most popular flavoured tobacco product among this audience,” she added.

Stiffening of arteries and the aorta are important signs of progression of hypertension, which raises the risk of heart attacks, stroke and other cardiovascular disorders. Despite these effects, hookah smoking remains more popular, due to marketing efforts as well as social trends.

The study appears in the American Journal of Cardiology.