In the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers had found a significantly increased risk (2.3) for pulmonary embolism (PE) for those who sat for >40 hours per week compared to those who spent < 10 hours sitting per week.
In a study recently published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, researchers analyzing data from the Japanese Collaborative Cohort Study, involving >86,000 participants followed for more than 19 years, found that watching television for 5 or more hours per day increased the risk of death from PE 2.5-fold and watching TV for 2.5-4.9 hours daily had a 1.7-fold increase of PE death. These results were controlled for such factors as obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, smoking, sports activity, age and sex. The risks could actually have been even higher since deaths from PE are likely underreported given the difficulty in diagnosis.
Sitting and watching TV for more than 5 hours per day significantly increased the risk of dying from blood clots. The current study participants were queried before computers, tablets and smartphones became such popular sources of entertainment, leading to the question as to whether sitting and watching these would be associated with the same or similar risk.
Prolonged sitting has been associated with venous stasis, a potential mechanism for development of deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and subsequent PE. Perhaps analogous to long airplane travel, it is best to get up frequently and to exercise and stretch your legs while binge-watching.