NEW YORK: A study that followed more than 15,000 people has found that those who reported watching television the most often had the greatest risk for blood clots in their veins compared with those who infrequently or never watched television. Even if you get enough exercise, watching TV very often could still raise your risk of VTE.
The new findings are to feature at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Scientific Sessions 2017, held this week in Anaheim, CA.
Researchers have already linked the amount of time spent watching TV to risk of heart diseasethat develops from blood clots in arteries.
The study is significant as it is the first to explore the link between venous thromboembolism — that is, a range of conditions in which blood clots develop in veins — and TV viewing in a large group of people in a western population.
Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is an umbrella term that includes both deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Although it can occur at any age, VTE is more common in people aged 60 and older.
DVTs are blood clots that form in veins deep inside the body, such as in the arms, legs, and pelvis. A PE develops when a clot breaks away and gets into the arteries of the lungs.
VTE is a major and growing public health concern in the United States, where it is thought to affect between 300,000 and 600,000 people per year. It is the most commonly diagnosed vascular condition, following strokes and heart attacks.
For the new study, Mary Cushman — a professor of medicine in the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont in Burlington — and other investigators used data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study.
The data came from 15,158 people aged 45–64, all of whom were free of VTE between 1987 and 1989 when they first reported which category their TV viewing frequency fell into, and these were “never or seldom,” “sometimes,” “often,” or “very often.” Updates on the categories were collected in 1993–1995 and 2009–2011, and VTE events were also noted during the follow-up period.