(HealthDay News) – Use of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), a battery-powered nicotine delivery device, is not associated with the impairment of left ventricular function seen with cigarette smoking.

Konstantinos Farsalinos, MD, and colleagues from the Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center in Athens, Greece, examined the acute effects of e-cigarettes on left ventricular myocardial function and compared them with the effects of regular cigarettes. Participants included 22 ex-smokers who were using the e-cigarette (eCIG) and 20 regular cigarette smokers (SM). A complete echocardiographic exam was conducted after three hours of abstinence from alcohol, coffee, or cigarettes. A repeat exam was performed after seven minutes of smoking an e-cigarette with nicotine concentration of 11 mg/ml or after smoking one regular cigarette.

The researchers found that characteristics and baseline echocardiographic and hemodynamic parameters were similar in both groups. The total smoking exposure, based on the Brinkman index (number of daily cigarettes × smoking years), was significantly higher in the e-CIG group than the SM group. There were no significant alterations in any echocardiographic parameters with use of an e-cigarette, except a slight increase in the MV-A wave (P=0.047). Smoking a cigarette correlated with a significant decrease in tissue Doppler mitral annulus early diastolic velocity and significant increases in isovolumic relaxation time and myocardial performance index of the left ventricle.

“Considering the extreme hazards associated with cigarette smoking, currently available data suggest that electronic cigarettes are far less harmful and substituting tobacco with electronic cigarettes may be beneficial to health,” Farsalinos said in a statement.

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