Binge-Watching Television Spikes Blood Clot Risk

SEPTEMBER 02, 2015
Amy Jacob
Couch potatoes, beware. According to a recent study presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2015 Congress (ESC) in London, UK, watching television for longer than five hours each day doubles the likelihood of suffering a fatal pulmonary embolism.
Nielsen media ratings company’s March 2014 “Cross-Platform Report” highlighted the average American watches more than five hours of live television every day – with a minimum of 30 minutes spent on time-shifted television.
During one of ESC’s presentations, Toru Shirakawa, research fellow at the Department of Social Medicine, Osaka University, Japan and his colleagues shared their observation on the link between prolonged TV watching and fatal pulmonary embolism.
Shirakawa’s study included 86,024 participants between 40 and 79 years whose self-administered questionnaires were tracked between 1988 and 1990. Each participant was involved in detailed follow-up for an average of 18.4 years until 2009.
The study split the duration of TV watching among three groups: less than 2.5 hours, 2.5 to 4.9 hours, and five or more hours a day.
People who sat in front of the TV for more than five hours a day were found twice as likely to suffer a fatal blood clot compared to those who view less.
The researchers determined the risk of death from pulmonary embolism based on TV watching after adjusting for age at baseline, body mass index, drinking status, gender, history of diabetes, history of hypertension, menopausal status, smoking status, and walking and sports habits.
A total of 59 deaths directly from pulmonary embolism were identified through death certificates. Shirakawa said, “We have known about the relationship between prolonged sitting and pulmonary embolism for some time, but this is the first time a direct link between prolonged television watching and fatal pulmonary embolism has been shown.”
Shirakawa continued, "Leg immobility during television viewing may in part explain the finding. To prevent the occurrence of pulmonary embolism, we recommend the same preventative behavior used against economy class syndrome.”
With the increasing use of technological devices, sitting in front of the computer or other visual based media devices for long periods of time has become the norm.  As such, experts urge individuals to simply take breaks: stand up, walk around, and drink more water – prevention is key. 

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