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Boxset bingewatching could leave you with blood clots, says new study

Each two hours of inactivity in front of the TV sharply raises the risk of a fatal pulmonary embolism by 40%

Image: Shutterstock

BINGEING ON TV boxsets sharply increases the risk of dying from a blood clot in the lungs, according to a major new study.

Hours of inactivity slumped in front of a television sharply drastically raises the risk of a fatal pulmonary embolism. Each additional two hours of viewing per day raised the risk by 40%.

Researchers said those who planned long sessions watching television should take the same precautions as those embarking on long-haul flights.

The study, which analysed the TV viewing habits of more than 86,000 people aged 40 to 79 between 1988 and 1990, was reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

It also examined factors which influenced the result, including obesity, diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure.

A five-minute walk

After watching TV for hours at a time, obesity appeared to have the strongest link to pulmonary embolism, said the scientists, from the graduate school of medicine at Osaka University.

The researchers recommended a five-minute walk every hour.

shutterstock_148158335 Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn and Aaron Paul starred in the hit boxset drama Breaking Bad. Source: Shutterstock

The Japanese team found that people who watched five or more hours of programmes daily were more than twice as likely to die over the following 19 years than those who watched less than two and a half hours.

They said recent trends – such as “binge-watching” box sets via online streaming, and reliance on laptops and tablets – could put increased numbers at risk.

Pulmonary embolism is closely linked to sedentary lifestyle, and while it starts off as a clot in the leg or pelvis, it can affect the lungs.

An untreated pulmonary embolism is fatal for over a quarter of people.

Dr Toru Shirakawa, one of the researchers, warned against lengthy TV sessions that might involve back-to-back episodes of a favourite series.

Nowadays, with online video streaming, the term ‘binge-watching’ to describe viewing multiple episodes of television programmes in one sitting has become popular.

“This popularity may reflect a rapidly growing habit.”

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Similar to long-haul flights

It was possible to watch a lot of TV while taking simple precautions to avoid blood clots similar to those recommended for air travellers on long-haul flights, said the researchers.

Lead researcher Prof Hiroyasu Iso advised a five-minute walk.

After an hour or so, stand up, stretch, walk around, or while you’re watching TV, tense and relax your leg muscles for five minutes.

He added that drinking water and losing weight may also help.

The study recorded viewing habits before computers, tablets and smartphones became popular sources of information and entertainment, said the scientists.

Overall, the risk of such deaths remains low, with just 59 deaths from the fatal clots out of 86,000 case.

The study said these cases were likely to be under-reported, as the condition can easily be missed.

The researchers added that more research is needed to assess the effect of these new technologies on pulmonary embolism risk.

Symptoms of the clots include chest pain and shortness of breath, so it can easily be mistaken for other conditions.

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