Vaping could put you at the same risk of getting heart disease as smoking cigarettes, research suggests.
Public Health England claims e-cigarettes are ’95 per cent safer than traditional tobacco’ and encourages smokers to make the switch.
But researchers have found the devices may trigger changes in cholesterol linked to killer heart disease, similar to cigarettes.
Vaping also stifled the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body just as much, if not more, than traditional forms of tobacco.
Research has shown smoking cigarettes increases heart rate, tightens major arteries and can cause an irregular heart rhythm – all of which make your heart work harder.
The killer habit also raises blood pressure, which increases the risk of a stroke and a heart attack.
Scientists are unsure why e-cigarettes cause similar changes in heart health, even though they contain fewer harmful chemicals than standard cigarettes.
British health bosses say they are ‘as certain as ever’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking despite 34 Americans dying to mystery lung diseases linked to the devices
E-cigarettes allow users to inhale nicotine in vapour form, rather than breathing in smoke from cigarettes which burn tobacco and produce tar.
But scientists are now advising users wean off e-cigarettes because of the ‘lack of information on long-term safety’ and a ‘growing body of data on their negative effects’.
Researchers from Boston University analysed 476 participants aged between 21 and 45 with no previous heart issues.
Of them, 94 were non-smokers, 45 e-cigarette users, 52 people who used both e-cigarettes and traditional tobacco and 285 cigarette smokers.
The team found that bad cholesterol, known as LDL, was higher in sole e-cigarette users compared to non-smokers.
When you have more LDL than your body needs, it can cause plaque to build up in your arteries. This thick, hard plaque can clog your arteries like a blocked pipe.
Reduced blood flow can lead to a stroke or heart attack. If a clot completely blocks an artery feeding your heart, you can have a heart attack.
Lead author Sana Majid said: ‘Although primary care providers and patients may think that the use of e-cigarettes by cigarette smokers makes heart health sense, our study shows e-cigarette use is also related to differences in cholesterol levels.
‘The best option is to use FDA-approved methods to aid in smoking cessation, along with behavioural counselling.’
However, the team’s research did not look at whether vape users had previously smoked cigarettes.
The high cholesterol levels therefore may have been caused by damage done by previous traditional tobacco use.
A separate study, by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, found vaping was worse for heart blood flow than cigarettes.
Researchers analysed 19 young adult smokers – aged between 24 and 32 – immediately before and after vaping or smoking a cigarette.
They examined the heart’s function using an ultrasound while participants were at rest and after performing a handgrip exercise to simulate physiologic stress.
In smokers who use traditional cigarettes, blood flow increased modestly after inhalation and then decreased with subsequent stress.
However, in smokers who used e-cigarettes, blood flow decreased after both inhalation at rest and after handgrip stress.
Lead author Florian Rader, medical director of the Human Physiology Laboratory at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said: ‘These results indicate that e-cig use is associated with persistent coronary vascular dysfunction at rest, even in the absence of physiologic stress.’
Co-author Susan Cheng, director of public health research, also at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, added: ‘We were surprised by our observation of the heart’s blood flow being reduced at rest, even in the absence of stress, following inhalation from the e-cigarette.
However, British health bosses have said they are ‘as certain as ever’ that vaping is less harmful than smoking.
Public Health England’s Professor John Newton said he was adamant that e-cigarettes were ‘far less harmful than smoking’.
PHE claims vaping is 95 per cent better than smoking and still encourages traditional smokers to make the switch.
It says vape contains fewer harmful chemicals than standard cigarettes, which burn tobacco and produce tar. E-cigarettes allow users to inhale nicotine in vapour rather than breathing in smoke.
Counterfeit or bootleg e-cigarettes that officials believe have been tinkered with to contain THC have become the prime suspects behind the US deaths.
But Professor Newton, director of health improvement at PHE, reiterated it had not changed its advice on nicotine containing e-cigarettes.
‘Smokers should consider switching completely and vapers should stop smoking,’ he said.
‘We are as certain as ever that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, which kills almost 220 people in England every day.
‘Our concern is that the responses we have seen to the problem in the US and in other countries may increase the already widespread misunderstanding about the relative safety of nicotine e-cigarettes, deterring smokers from switching and risk driving vapers who have switched back to smoking.’