Smoking e-cigarettes – which are often regarded as a healthier alternative– is just as bad as smoking regular cigarettes, a new study suggests.
A study conducted by University of Athens Medical School found that electronic cigarettes caused similar damage to key blood vessels, such as the aorta artery in the heart.
Despite the NHS backing e-cigarettes as a quitting aid, researchers at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Rome have labelled the NHS decision as premature.
The trial involved a group of adult smokers, whose hearts were monitored while they vaped, and when they smoked ordinary cigarettes.
Researchers said a typical vaping session had a similar impact on stiffness of the aorta – the main artery into the heart – as smoking one regular cigarette.
The stiffness of the aorta has significant health implications.
Speaking in Rome, lead researcher Professor Charalambos Viachopoulos from the University of Athens said: “The aorta is like a balloon next to the heart. The more stiff the balloon is, the more difficult for the heart to pump. It’s the most powerful biomarker we have for estimating cardiovascular risk”.
“If the aorta is stiff you multiply your risk of dying, either from heart diseases or from other causes. They [e-cigarettes] are far more dangerous than people realise”.
While this evidence exists, opinions on electronic cigarettes are still divided.
Last year, Public Health England (PHE) published a report that stated e-cigarettes were 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco.
In response to these findings Viachopoulos said: “I wouldn’t recommend them now as a method to give up smoking. I think the UK has rushed into adopting this method”.