Prolonged TV viewing may increase risk of blood clots

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Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

But researchers have now issued a warning stating that prolonged viewing can impact health and potentially raise the risk of developing blood clots.

Academics at the University of Vermont analysed the results of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study and discovered that the risk of developing a blood clot (venous thromboembolism) was 1.7 times higher in those who reported they watch TV "very often" compared with those who watch TV "never or seldom". Blood clots were also 1.8 times higher in participants who met recommended guidelines for physical activity and reported watching TV "very often".

"Watching TV itself isn't likely bad, but we tend to snack and sit still for prolonged periods while watching," said study co-author Professor Mary Cushman, adding that people may want to consider doing some other kind of activity during viewing sessions. "Think about how you can make the best use of your time to live a fuller and healthier life. You could put a treadmill or stationary bike in front of your TV and move while watching. Or you can delay watching TV by 30 minutes while you take a walk. If you must see your favourite show, tape it while you are out walking so you can watch it later, skipping the ads."

Although blood clots are more common in people 60 and older, it can occur at any age. Besides avoiding prolonged TV watching, you can lower your risk of venous thromboembolism by maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active.

"Health professionals should take the time to ask patients about their fitness and sedentary time, such as prolonged sitting watching TV or at a computer," Professor Cushman added. "If you are at heightened risk of venous thromboembolism due to a recent operation, pregnancy or recent delivery, cancer or a previous clot, your doctor may prescribe blood-thinning medication or advise you to wear compression stockings."

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