MAR 16, 2018 4:59 AM PDT

Could Binge Watching Give You a Blood Clot?

Binge watching Netflix or other television or movie streaming services is something that has come to be very popular. With shows and movies available On Demand or via subscription services, it's easy to decide to stay in, hunker down with some snacks and blow through a bunch of episodes of the latest scary show or thriller series.

In many parts of the country, it's the deep dark of winter. Gym attendance drops at this time of year and calorie intake increases. 

While it's evident to most that it's important to exercise and eat right, the call of the binge is hard to ignore. Perhaps new research from scientists at the University of Minnesota might have the right information to discourage too much bingeing? A study conducted there showed that individuals who watch a lot of television have a much higher risk for blood clots than those who don't watch as much. Some estimates suggest that each day, the average amount of time that Americans watch television is as much as five hours. Combined with eating too many snacks or consuming sugary beverages and the risk of venous thromboembolism, or VTE. Blood clots that begin in the legs are a result of too much sitting. Circulation in the lower limbs becomes impaired, and blood clots can form. If these clots break off and travel, they can reach the lungs, the brain or the heart and have devastating results.

In 1987, a study called the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) began. It followed  15,158 Americans aged between 45 and 64 and kept track of how much time was spent sitting, watching television and exercising. They also tracked health information on weight, blood pressure and smoking. Over the years the team at Minnesota kept track of the study patients, logging hospital visits, illnesses and the number of patients who experienced VTEs. When the numbers were added up, the risk for developing a possibly fatal blood clot was 1.7 times higher for participants who watched television "very often" compared to those patients who listed their television time as "seldom."

While general health, weight, diet, and smoking are all factors that will raise one's risk for a blood clot, even when weight and exercise frequency factors were controlled. Yasuhiko Kubota of the University of Minnesota is the US. Kubota is the lead author of the most recent research that used the ARIC data and he explained, "These results suggest that even individuals who regularly engage in physical activity should not ignore the potential harms of prolonged sedentary behaviors such as TV viewing. Avoiding frequent TV viewing, increasing physical activity and controlling body weight might be beneficial to prevent VTE." With television shows being available at all times, it's hard to resist the temptation to sit down and plow through several episodes of a favorite series, but blood clots can be deadly. The following video (which is not long at all) explains more about the dangers of the binge. Check it out and then go for a walk!

Sources: University of MinnesotaJournal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis, UPI

About the Author
  • I'm a writer living in the Boston area. My interests include cancer research, cardiology and neuroscience. I want to be part of using the Internet and social media to educate professionals and patients in a collaborative environment.
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