Binge-watching TV in middle-age may raise the risk of blood clots by a THIRD, study suggests

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Binge-watching TV in middle-age may raise the risk of blood clots by a THIRD, study suggests… and experts say you should ‘stand and stretch’ every half-hour

  • People watching TV for four hours a day 35% more likely to develop blood clots
  • Researchers say being idle drives up the risk of clotting condition VTE
  • They urged Britons to take breaks when binge watching to cut risk


Binge-watching TV can significantly raise your risk of suffering blood clots, a major review suggests.

British researchers found the risk was about a third higher in adults who spent four or more hours in front of the TV a day, compared to people who watched for two-and-a-half or less.

They are now urging people to take half-hour breaks between boxsets to ‘stand and stretch’ and cut down on snacks. 

Bristol University experts also urged Netflix addicts to think about using a stationary bike. 

Scientists have known for years that prolonged sitting can raises the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), which kills thousands of people every year. 

Long periods of inactivity lets blood to pool in the extremities, which can then lead to clots. It is for this same reason airplane travellers are advised to move frequently on long-haul flights. 

But the new study found that even physically active people were still at more risk of blood clots. 

Researchers also warned people who binge on TV tend to eat junk food, which can lead to other conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure — also clot risks.

Dr Setor Kunutsor, a researcher at the university and lead study author, said: ‘If you are going to binge on TV you need to take breaks.  

British researchers found the risk was about a third higher in adults who spent four or more hours in front of the TV a day, compared to people who watched for two-and-a-half or less. Pictured: man watching TV

British researchers found the risk was about a third higher in adults who spent four or more hours in front of the TV a day, compared to people who watched for two-and-a-half or less. Pictured: man watching TV 

‘You can stand and stretch every 30 minutes or use a stationary bike. And avoid combining television with unhealthy snacking.’

Around one in 500 Britons and Americans suffer from blood clots per year, with up to 60 per cent of cases among hospitalised patients partly due to the length of time they spend being idle.

Most clots occur in veins in the leg — which is called deep vein thrombosis — which is usually easily treatable. 

But small parts of blood clots can break off and travel in the bloodstream to organs such as the lungs, known as pulmonary embolism. It can be fatal if not treated early. 

WHAT IS VENOUS THROMBOEMBOLISM?

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a condition in which a blood clot forms.

It includes pulmonary embolisms (PE), which is a blood clot in the lungs, and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is when blood clots develop in the veins. 

Around one in 500 Britons and Americans suffer from blood clots per year, with up to 60 per cent of cases among hospitalised patients due to the length of time they spend being idle. 

Risk factors for developing the condition include being idle for extended periods of time, such as among hospitalised and bedridden people, being aged 60 or over, a family history of the condition and being overweight.

People with suspected PE or DVT should be referred to hospital and given blood thinning medication while waiting for a scan to confirm the condition.

The review, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, examined three studies with a total of 131,421 participants from the US and Japan aged 40 or older who had no prior clotting diagnosis and were quizzed on their TV viewing habits.

The volunteers were divided into ‘prolonged viewers’ who watched TV for at least four hours per day and ‘seldom viewers’ who watched less than two-and-a-half hours per day.

Researchers detected 964 venous thromboembolism (VTE) cases after monitoring the participants for between five and 20 years, with ‘prolonged viewers’ being 1.35 times more likely to develop clots than ‘seldom viewers’.

The team found that exercising did not offset the risk of developing clots among TV fanatics.

Dr Kunutsor said: ‘The findings indicate that regardless of physical activity, your BMI, how old you are and your gender, watching many hours of television is a risky activity with regards to developing blood clots.’

The researchers noted that the findings are based on observational studies, so the increased risk among those who watched more television could be down to other factors, such as other lifestyle or health triggers.

But Dr Kunutsor noted prolonged TV viewing involves staying still which is a risk factor for VTE.

He said: ‘This is why people are encouraged to move around after surgery or during a long-haul flight’

‘In addition, when you sit in a cramped position for long periods, blood pools in your extremities rather than circulating and this can cause blood clots. 

‘Finally, binge-watchers tend to eat unhealthy snacks which may lead to obesity and high blood pressure which both raise the likelihood of blood clots.’

Dr Kunutsor added: ‘Our results suggest that we should limit the time we spend in front of the television. Long periods of TV watching should be interspersed with movement to keep the circulation going. 

‘Generally speaking, if you sit a lot in your daily life – for example your work involves sitting for hours at a computer – be sure to get up and move around from time to time.’

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