Cigarette smokers who switch to vaping could significantly improve their vascular health, a study has concluded.
A two-year trial hosted by the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine found that smokers who switched to e-cigarettes demonstrated a significant improvement in their vascular health within four weeks, with women experiencing greater gains by switching than men.
The study also found that participants who transitioned achieved greater improvement compared to those who continued to use both tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes.
However, Jacob George, professor of cardiovascular medicine and therapeutics at Dundee and chief investigator of the trial, said that while e-cigarettes were found to be less harmful, the devices may still carry health risks.
“It is crucial to emphasise that e-cigarettes are not safe, just less harmful than tobacco cigarettes when it comes to vascular health. Smoking of any kind is a preventable risk factor for heart disease,” he stated.
George said each percentage point improvement in vascular function results in a 13% reduction in cardiovascular event rates such as heart attack.
“By switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes we found an average percentage point improvement of 1.5 within just one month. This represents a significant improvement in vascular health,” he added.
The research also revealed that if a person had smoked less than 20 pack years, their blood vessel stiffness significantly improved compared to those who smoked more than 20 pack years.
Approximately 6% of Britain’s adult population use a vaporiser, though previously the impact of the devices on vascular health have been unclear.
Although the majority of e-cigarette liquids contain nicotine, they do not contain tobacco, which is claimed to have caused more than 7.1 million deaths worldwide in 2016. The number of additional chemicals is also typically much lower than those found in cigarettes.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health.
“Just because e-cigarettes may be less harmful than tobacco doesn’t mean they are completely safe. We know they contain significantly fewer of the harmful chemicals, which can cause diseases related to smoking, but we still don’t know the long term impact on the heart and circulation, or other aspects of health,” he warned.