We’ve always known that being a couch potato is unhealthy. It’s only until recently that science has backed it up. The facts are quite startling. There can be no doubt about it. Sitting and watching television for long periods or viewing a whole series on Netflix for example for your health. Most people have no idea how quick and fatal the consequence can be.
Those who watch television for more than five hours per day without much movement (yes we mean you Netflixers or those that love watching TV series back to back) are most at risk of a pulmonary embolism. It starts out as deep vein thrombosis, which is just another way of saying blood clots that form in the legs. The blood clots travel through the body and eventually can reach the lungs. There they can block blood flow to the lungs leading to what is called a pulmonary embolism.
When the blood from the right side of the heart is pumped out to the arteries in the lungs, the clot gets stuck in the pulmonary vessels as these vessels get narrower. This causes a sudden obstruction of blood flow to the lungs, pulmonary hypertension and severe strain on the heart as it works to maintain adequate hemodynamics.
Because part of the lung is now dead or dying, the patient becomes hypoxic and the respiratory rate increases to compensate for the non-functioning lung tissue. Depending on the size of the clot and how much blood flow is being obstructed, pulmonary embolism symptoms range from mild shortness of breath to respiratory distress and to cardiac arrest.
Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a high-mortality condition that affects more than 600,000 people a year, killing almost a third of those affected.
People over 60 are the most at risk from a pulmonary embolism. The reason for that many of them watch television for 7 hours or more per day having little else to do all day or night. It’s this that can leads to DVT. Also, people who play video games for long periods of time experience this condition as well. As they are subject to long periods of inactivity. Recent deaths of young gamers some of whom have played nonstop for over 24 hours highlight the need for awareness of this condition.
What can be done to prevent pulmonary embolism? The short answer is to watch less television and video games. That’s not exactly the easiest thing to if you’re someone that has nothing else to do or just love gaming. The first thing to do is take a break from watching television or gaming. Get up and move around. It’s important to get the blood flowing in your legs as this is the one way you can prevent DVT.
A more drastic method is to invest in compression stockings. These work by forcing the sluggish blood from the deep veins of the lower limbs upwards thereby preventing clotting. It’s important to get up at least once an hour. Doing a few aerobic exercises and stretching is also good as this will certainly get the blood flowing.
Finally the other things gamers can do apart from taking a break every 60-90 minutes include:
- Sitting in an office type chair (with your body in an S shape) as opposed to a couch
- Avoid kneeling or sitting on your legs whilst gaming as this can be very dangerous)
- Take off your socks especially if the elastic is tight
- Keeping dehydrated by drinking plenty of fluid preferably water
- Avoid drinking alcohol or coffee before or during gaming as this causes dehydration
- Avoid drinking high energy caffeine drinks to keep going whilst gaming (highly dehydrating)
Investing in a good pair of quality compression sock to reduce blood clotting and DVT
That’s it, happy gaming or Netflixing but just be aware of the danger. Remember the old adage everything in moderation, that includes the time you spend in from of the screen.