Dr. Campbell: Watching TV tied to fatal clot risk

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A new study has shown that the more TV you watch, the more likely you are to have a potentially life-threatening blood clot known as a pulmonary embolus, or PE.

A pulmonary embolus occurs when a blood clot from the leg (most commonly) called a DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis, breaks free and travels thru the circulation to the lungs. There, it can lodge in the tiny blood vessels that supply the lungs and obstruct blood flow. This condition can be fatal as lung tissue can die without blood flow.

The risk factors for a PE are:

  • Prolonged sitting—plane ride, car ride, etc.
  • Injury or surgery
  • Cancer
  • Prolonged bedrest
  • Family history of clots
  • Pregnancy and hormone replacement pills
  • Smoking

Japanese researchers studied 86,024 generally healthy people who filled out questionnaires with items about health and lifestyle, including time spent watching television.

During a follow-up of more than 19 years, there were 59 deaths from pulmonary embolism.

Researchers then found that compared with watching TV less than 2 ½ hours a day, watching for 2 ½ to five hours increased the risk for a fatal clot by 70 percent, and watching more than five hours increased the risk by 250 percent. For each extra two hours of watching, the risk of death rose 40 percent.  It was, however, very likely that these time periods of TV watching were uninterrupted—viewers likely sat still for the entire time –and this places them at much higher risk for PE.

What can we do to prevent PE?

  • Take breaks, stand up and walk around when sitting for long periods of time –such as on a plane, a long car trip or when binge watching Netflix or TV
  • Stay hydrated—drink water
  • If you have a family history (or personal history) of blood clots, it is important to talk with your doctor—he or she may even prescribe preventative blood thinners

To get in touch with Dr. Campbell, you can head to his website, Facebook page or message him on Twitter. If there’s a topic you’d like to see Dr. Campbell cover, let us know by sending an email to newstips@wncn.com.

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