Risks for blood clot in a vein may rise with increased TV viewing

November 12, 2017

ANAHEIM, California, Nov. 12, 2017 -- Risk of blood clots increases with the amount of time spent watching television, even if people get the recommended amount of physical activity, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2017, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians.

"Watching TV itself isn't likely bad, but we tend to snack and sit still for prolonged periods while watching," said Mary Cushman, M.D., M.Sc., co-author of the study and professor of medicine at the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington.

Prolonged TV viewing has already been associated with heart disease involving blocked arteries, but this is the first study in a western population to look at blood clots in veins of the legs, arms, pelvis and lungs known as venous thromboembolism or VTE.

Among 15,158 middle-aged (45-64 years) participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, researchers found that the risk of developing a venous thromboembolism for the first time was: "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 favorite show, tape it while you are out walking so you can watch it later, skipping the ads," said Cushman, who is also the director of the Thrombosis and Hemostasis Program at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Each year, it is estimated that between 300,000 to 600,000 people in the U.S. develop venous thromboembolism, making it the most common vascular diagnosis after a heart attack or stroke. Although venous thromboembolism is 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," Cushman said. "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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Co-authors are Yasuhiko Kubota, M.D.; Neil Zakai, M.D., M.Sc.; Wayne D. Rosamond, Ph.D., M.S. and Aaron R. Folsom, M.D., M.P.H.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the study.

Note: Scientific presentation is 3:15 PT, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017

Presentation location: Clinical Science III Section, Science and Technology Hall

Additional Resources: Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke - the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit heart.org or call any of our offices around the country. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

For Media Inquiries and AHA Spokesperson Perspective:

AHA News Media in Dallas: 214-706-1173

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American Heart Association

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