A review of the research suggests that binge-watching is not good for circulation. The study found that people who watched TV four or more hours a day were more likely to develop a blood clot that could lead to serious health problems and even death. The increased risk was not seen by other factors like a person's level of physical activity.
VTE is caused by blood clot that form in our veins. Deep vein thrombosis is the most common form of VTE and can be found along our legs or in our arms.
Many people don't experience any symptoms when DVTs happen, but they can cause swelling and pain. If not treated early, these obstructions can damage the valves in our veins and lead to long-term problems. A life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism can be caused by the clot getting stuck in the arteries of our lungs. Up to 100,000 Americans die annually from the combination of DVT and pulmonary embolism, and it is estimated that close to a million people in the U.S. may develop DVT every year.
Older people, injury to the veins, and health conditions like heart disease are some of the risk factors for VTE. It is known that being in one place for too long can increase the risk of being confined to a hospital bed. Some researchers wondered if long sessions in front of the TV could be a potential contributor to VTE.
Setor Kunutsor and his team at the University of Bristol are studying how to best prevent cardiovascular diseases. They wanted to better understand the link between TV-watching and VTE by analyzing the few studies that have looked at the topic.
They looked at data from three observational studies involving more than 130,000 people who hadn't been diagnosed with VTE at the start of the study. Their health was tracked for several years and they were also asked about their lifestyles, including their TV viewing time.
About 1,000 people were diagnosed with VTE during the study period. Those who watch four or more hours a day are more likely to develop VTE than those who watch less. The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology published the findings of the team.
The authors are careful to point out that this type of research can only show a correlation between TV-watching and VTE, not prove that VTE is caused by TV-watching. The authors say more research is needed to clarify how harmful extended TV watching could be for our veins. The link was found even when other factors that could raise or lower the risk of VTE were taken into account.
The risk of VTE was not related to age, sex, body mass index or physical activity, according to Kunutsor. The relationship we observed between TV viewing and VTE risk cannot be explained by age, sex, body mass index and physical activity. The relationship doesn't depend on these factors.
The most plausible explanation for why binge-watching could increase VTE risk is long periods of sedentary behavior. TV watching is linked to heart disease. There is a chance that people's diet and binging TV could lead to other health problems, like high blood pressure.
Even though the relationship between TV and blood clotting risk may exist for people who stay in shape, that doesn't mean physical activity is worthless. Kunutsor and his team have found that exercise has a protective effect on VTE. You can still lower your risk of VTE by taking time every so often to remain active, even if you are committed to your marathons of addictive shows.
Take regular breaks if you want to watch a lot of TV. Kunutsor said that those who sit for long hours at work can stand and stretch every 30 minutes.
If you are already physically active but still have to sit at work or binge, now is the time to increase your physical activity levels as there is evidence showing that higher volumes of moderate and vigorous activity can reduce or even eliminate the adverse risks associated.