Couch potatoes addicted to channel surfing may have more to worry about than too many choices: they could be risking their lives.
People who watch television for five or more hours a day are at greater risk of dying from a blood clot in the lungs, according to a Japanese research team from Osaka University.
Watching television more than five hours daily increased the risk of a fatal clot by 250 percent. Watching television for two and a half to five hours increases the risk by 70 percent, according to Toru Shirakawa, one of the researchers and authors of the paper published in the journal "Circulation."
Researchers followed more than 86,000 middle-aged to older adults, starting in 1988. Over the 19-year follow-up period, 59 people died of a pulmonary embolism, according to the study.
The people in the study reported how many hours they spent watching TV daily, as well as information about their body mass index, health history, physical activity levels and whether they smoked, according to the study.
Dr. Michael Zimring, director of the Center for Wilderness and Travel Medicine at Mercy Medical Center and an expert in deep vein thrombosis said anytime people sit for long periods of time with their knees bent at 90-degree angle, the risk for a blood clot is greater.
"Flow goes from the foot to the leg. If you’re sitting in a position where the blood flow is stopped, that's a risk factor," he said, noting there are many other factors to consider, like age, obesity, previous surgery on the lower extremities.
Clots form in the legs and can breaks off and travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. Clots in the lung cut off air supply and people can die suddenly.
Zimring said he advises people to get up every hour and walk. "I tell my older patients going on long car rides, they have to stop every hour or two and get out of the car and walk."