Long-term smokers who switched to vaping were halfway to achieving vascular health of a nonsmoker in a month, according to a study. Researchers at the University of Dundee, UK, said they discovered “significant early benefit” in switching from smoking to vaping in the largest clinical study to date.
Those who dropped cigarettes and vaped instead saw their blood vessel function increase by about 1.5 percentage points in four weeks compared to those who continued to smoke.
The researchers said they did not know if these benefits would be sustained as more research is needed on the long-term effects of vaping. They also warned that vaping is not safe, just “less harmful” than smoking.
However, they said that if that improvement was sustained over the long term, those who switched would have at least a 13 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks.
The study recruited 114 adults in the UK who had smoked at least 15 cigarettes a day for at least two years and were free of established cardiovascular disease.
Forty continued to smoke tobacco cigarettes, 37 switched to e-cigarettes with nicotine and 37 switched to e-cigarettes without.
Read more: Vaping can cause cancer – but it’s still safer than smoking
Researchers measured shifts in blood vessel function – the earliest detectable change in cardiovascular health – through a test known as flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which measures how far a blood vessel opens. They used a different test to measure the stiffness of the vessels.
Overall, the groups who switched to e-cigarettes showed an improvement in their vascular function of 1.49 percentage points compared to those who continued to smoke.
Separate studies have shown that for every 1 percentage point improvement in vascular health, there are 13 percent fewer cardiovascular events over the long term.
A healthy non-smoker can expect an average FMD score of 7.7 percent, the authors said. Chronic smokers who switched to nicotine vaping saw their foot and mouth disease rise by about a fifth, from 5.5 percent to 6.7 percent at the end of the month. This means that within a month, the new vapers were about halfway to reaching FMD from a healthy nonsmoker.
Journal reference: Journal of the American College of Cardiology, DOI: 10.1016 / j.jacc.2019.09.067
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