Beware the telly-tale signs of a deadly habit
Couch potatoes be warned: your TV binge-watching could lead to fatal blood clots
Being a couch potato and glued to your television for hours on end could literally kill you.
A new study by the University of Minnesota in the US has found that spending too much time in front of the small screen could increase a person’s chance of developing potentially fatal blood clots known as venous thrombosis.
The researchers warned that even trying to counterbalance hours of TV watching through exercise is unlikely to be effective.
“Prolonged sitting can in some cases lead to blood clots because the normal circulation of blood through the legs and feet is impaired,” said the researchers.
The study focused on the risk of developing a common and potentially fatal blood clot in the vein called venous thromboembolism (VTE).“One type of VTE is known as deep vein thrombosis, where the blood clots form in the deep veins of the legs. Another serious problem is when VTE become dislodged and travel through the bloodstream to block off another vein somewhere else in the body. If VTE end up in the lungs, they cause blood clots in the lungs known as pulmonary embolism,” the study stated.
Watching television is the most common sedentary behaviour around the world, and findings from a 2016 study in Japan highlighted the increased risk of suffering a VTE related to the hours spent in front of the TV.
The University of Minnesota study is the first to focus on a Western population, who are known to be more prone to blood-clotting conditions than people of Asian descent.The researchers analysed data from 15,158 Americans aged between 45 and 64 when the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) started in the late 1980s.
ARIC is an ongoing population-based prospective study of blood flow-related diseases in the US.
Participants were initially asked about their health status, whether they exercised or smoked and whether they were overweight.Since then ARIC has been in regular contact with participants to ask about hospital treatment they may have received.
“The findings show that participants who watched television very often had more than 1.7 times the risk of suffering from a VTE compared to those who never or seldom watched TV. This risk still remained high even when factors such a person’s weight or levels of exercise were taken into account,” said the researchers.In South Africa, the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS), launched two years ago, found that few South Africans are exercising and that those who don’t engage in physical activity are unlikely to do so in the future.
“In 2008‚ about 14% of South African adults reported exercising at least three times a week. And this number dropped marginally to 13% in 2012‚” said NIDS.“South Africans who report that they never exercise are unlikely to start exercising in the future. About 82% of those who reported never exercising in 2008 continued to remain inactive in 2012.”Professor Yoga Coopoo, head of sport and movement studies at the University of Johannesburg, said the life-threatening blood clots “can happen in persons that are at risk”.
“However, there are studies that show that people in general sit for more than eight-and-a-half hours per day. This may increase the risk for coronary heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
“Also, the time spent watching TV is related to the amount of visceral fat, which is a type of body fat that’s stored within the abdominal cavity.”
Coopoo said those who are prone to blood clots are “inactive, older people, people with chronic disease and those who are overweight or obese”.