Take a look at TV shows from the past, and you can see how common it was for people to smoke. For years, no one knew just how harmful cigarettes were to our health and that they were loaded with a number of addictive ingredients. In addition, cigarettes were later found to cause lung cancer and lung diseases such as emphysema. Today, many people avoid cigarettes or are trying to quit smoking. Sometimes, they will look to alternatives to traditional cigarettes to ween themselves off of them or get the \u201cnicotine buzz\u201d they\u2019d get from lighting up a cigarette.\nAlthough we now know how harmful traditional cigarettes are, we\u2019re still discovering the harmful effects of e-cigarettes, one alternative to paper cigarettes.\nHow Do E-cigarettes Affect Heart Health?\nWhile not much research has been done on this topic yet, it\u2019s important to understand how nicotine affects your heart and why quitting smoking \u2013 or never starting at all \u2013 is your best option.\nWhat Is Nicotine?\nNicotine is a highly addictive substance that is found in tobacco. In traditional cigarettes, dried tobacco and other additives burn and turn into smoke, which is inhaled.\nE-cigarettes also contain nicotine, but in a liquid form. The nicotine in e-cigarettes heats up and turns into vapor that gets inhaled. Makers claim that they are a better choice for smokers because they do not have the tobacco and other additives of traditional cigarettes. Nicotine is harmful to the body in many ways. It can:\n\nRaise your blood pressure\nRaise your heart rate\nMake your blood vessels become narrow\nPut you at a higher risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, a condition that can also raise your risk of a heart attack\n\nThese factors can increase your risk for heart disease and other serious, potentially life-threatening conditions like heart attack or stroke.\nRELATED:\u00a0How to Handle Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms\nWhy Is Quitting Smoking Good for My Heart?\nQuitting smoking doesn\u2019t just do good things for your lungs \u2013 it does good things for your whole body, and the benefits begin right away.\nWhen you quit smoking, you\u2019ll help your heart by:\n\nLowering your heart rate\nLowering your blood pressure\nLowering your risk for atherosclerosis and blood clots\n\nYour risk of getting heart disease becomes much lower when you quit smoking. In fact, a year after you quit, your risk of heart disease decreases by 50 percent.\nRELATED:\u00a0Butt Out: Tips for Quitting Smoking\nHow Can I Quit Smoking?\nWhile quitting smoking isn\u2019t always easy, people quit every day \u2013 even those who have smoked for years.\nWhether you smoke e-cigarettes or traditional ones, talk to your doctor about how you can stop. There are many programs that can provide you with support and guidance and help you get \u2013 and stay \u2013 on the path to a healthy, smoke-free heart.\nInterested in your heart health? Visit the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute to learn more about the risks and causes of many heart diseases, and find information on heart screenings in the Pittsburgh area.