Binge-watching TV is major driver of heart disease: Scientists urge people to watch less than one hour each day, exercise between episodes, and ditch viewing snacks
- Experts analysed health and TV watching habits from 370k Brits in 13-year study
- People watching TV for less than one hour a day had lower risk of heart disease
- Experts advised Brits to break up an episode with some exercise or stretching
- Cutting down on TV could prevent 11 per cent of cases of coronary heart disease
- Coronary heart disease kills some 64,000 Britons and 360k Americans per year
Breaking the binge watching habit could prevent thousands of people developing heart disease, a study claims.
University of Cambridge scientists now advise cutting daily TV time to less than an hour.
They found adults who sat watching for longer were up to 16 per cent more likely to be struck down with the killer condition. Calculations showed one in 10 cases could be prevented by people watching less TV.
But if people can’t break their screen addiction, the experts advised them to at least get up and move around between episodes to break up inactive periods.
They should also ditch snacks like crisps and chocolate, according to the academics who worked alongside a team at the University of Hong Kong.
Cambridge experts say up to 11 per cent of coronary heart disease cases could be prevented if people cut their TV watching time to less than an hour (stock image)
Coronary artery disease occurs when the major blood vessels that supply the heart with oxygen and nutrients become damaged.
CAD affects more than 1.6million men and one million women in the UK, prinivil zastosowanie and a total of 15million adults in the US.
It is usually due to plaque and inflammation.
When plaque builds up, it narrows the arteries, which decreases blood flow to the heart.
Over time this can cause angina, while a complete blockage can result in a heart attack.
Many people have no symptoms at first but as the plaque builds up they may notice chest pains or shortness of breath when exercising or stressed.
Other causes of CAD include smoking, diabetes and an inactive lifestyle.
It can be prevented by quitting smoking, controlling conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, staying active, eating well and managing stress.
Drugs can help to lower cholesterol, while aspirin thins the blood to reduce the risk of clots.
In severe cases, stents can be put into the arteries to open them, while coronary bypass surgery creates a graft to bypass the blocked arteries using a vessel from another part of the body.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Lead researcher Dr Youngwon Kim said: ‘All of these measures could help better manage your risk of developing coronary heart disease.’
The most common symptoms of coronary heart disease are chest pain (angina) and breathlessness. It increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Coronary artery disease affects more than 1.6million men and one million women in the UK, and a total of 15million adults in the US. It kills 64,000 Britons and 360,900 Americans a year.
In the study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, researchers calculated how 11 per cent of coronary heart disease cases could be prevented if people watched less than an hour of TV each day.
The experts used health data from 373,026 Britons and also looked at their genetic susceptibility to heart disease. Volunteers were tracked for 13 years.
They examined the differences between people watching TV and using a computer for leisure by assessing their answers to questionnaires.
Results showed people who watched TV for less than an hour a day were 16 per cent less likely to get coronary heart disease, than those who sat watching shows for four hours or more.
This reduced rate of heart disease was independent of any genetic risk, the experts said.
For those who watched two-three hours of TV a day, there was a 6 per cent lower risk of developing the condition, compared to people watching more than four hours.
But the study found that spending leisure time in front of a computer did not appear to influence the risk of disease.
Scientists said a reason for this may be because TV viewing tends to occur in the evening following dinner, often the largest meal of the day, leading to higher levels of fats and cholesterol in the blood.
Other reasons could be that people may also snack more in front of the TV than when using a computer, while TV viewing tends to be prolonged and computer users may be more likely to take breaks, they said.
Cambridge’s Dr Katrien Wijndaele, an expert on exercise and health and another author on the study, said incorporating breaks into sitting could help people live longer.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE YOU NEED
To stay health the NHS recommends adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do:
at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity (brisk walking or riding a bike) or a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity (running or swimming) activity a week
do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week, examples include lifting weights or heavy gardening
People who have not exercised for some time or have medical conditions are advised to speak to their GP before starting.
‘Coronary heart disease is one of the most prominent causes of premature death, so finding ways to help people manage their risk through lifestyle modification is important,’ she said.
She added while the study cannot prove that sitting watching TV increases your risk of coronary heart disease, it supported World Health Organization (WHO guidelines on inactivity.
‘The WHO recommends reducing the amount of sedentary behaviour and replacing it with physical activity of any intensity as a way of keeping healthier,’ she said.
According to the British Heart Foundation, coronary heart disease is one of the UK’s leading causes of death, responsible for around 64,000 deaths each year.
The charity’s senior cardiac nurse, Chloe MacArthur, said the study’s findings should prompt Britons to consider taking an exercise break between episodes.
‘Most of us watch TV sitting down, and we know from decades of research that leading a sedentary lifestyle can lead to health problems later in life, including an increased risk of coronary heart disease,’ she said.
‘While it can be difficult to weave physical activity into our daily routines, it only takes 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week to help reduce your risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases,’ she said.
‘When the temptation hits you to watch one more episode, try standing up and stretching, or go for an evening stroll instead. Stopping evening snacks and ensuring you eat a healthy balanced diet can also give your heart health a boost.’
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