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Could Too Much TV Lead to Blood Clots in Your Legs?

Sitting to watch television for four hours or longer can increase your chance of developing blood clots in your legs. Get up at commercials.

Have you or someone you know been binging on Netflix videos or some other engaging television shows? Could too much TV cause health problems? Unfortunately, it might increase the risk for blood clots in your legs (European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Jan. 20, 2022).

How Could TV Trigger Blood Clots in Your Legs?

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, people who watch a lot of television are at greater risk for developing venous thromboembolism or VTE. These are blood clots that form in the deep veins of the legs. In some circumstances, they travel to the lungs and cause life-threatening pulmonary embolisms.

The authors analyzed data from three prospective cohort studies involving over 130,000 participants. At the start of the studies, the participants’ average age was 54 to 65 years old. In the various trials, investigators followed the subjects for five to 20 years. Ultimately, people who watched the most TV were 35 percent more likely to develop a blood clot in their legs. In comparison to people who watched 2.5 hours a day or less, those who took in four hours a day or more were at risk.

Can You Reduce the Risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis?

Presumably, the primary problem with watching too much television is that we are sitting still for too long. One way to reduce the risk might be to stand up and walk around every thirty minutes or so. Taking advantage of commercial breaks might get you moving even more often.

For another approach, you could use a stationary bike or a treadmill while watching. Actively moving the legs keeps the blood from stagnating. In addition, it should reduce your chance of developing blood clots in your legs.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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  • Kunutsor SK et al, "Television viewing and venous thrombo-embolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis." European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, Jan. 20, 2022. DOI: 10.1093/eurjpc/zwab220
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