KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY BY BREAKING A BINGE-WATCHING HABIT

November 13, 2019

KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY BY BREAKING A BINGE-WATCHING HABIT

ThedaCare Cardiologist Explains the Connection 

APPLETON, Wis. – With the fall television line-up in place, more people might find themselves snuggling up to their TV and indulging in binge-watching. That habit now comes with a warning: it could be harmful to your heart.

“Watching your favorite TV series for hours on end can be addictive,” explained Salvior Mok, MD, a cardiothoracic surgeon with ThedaCare Cardiovascular Care. “It’s important to balance it with exercise.”

She cites a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, which finds watching several hours of TV at a time can seriously hurt your heart, especially among African American adults. 

According to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.5 million Americans experience heart attacks or strokes each year, and about 46 percent of African American adults have some form of heart disease.

“Maintaining an active lifestyle is so important in keeping your heart healthy,” Dr. Mok added. “Consider watching the show while walking on a treadmill. Or you could work out in the morning, so you can rest when you get home from work at night.”

The National Institutes of Health-supported highlighted: “African Americans who watched more than four hours of television every day faced a 50% greater risk of heart disease and premature death compared with those who watched less than two hours. However, African Americans who watched regular TV but also engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity 150 minutes per week did not face an increased risk for heart health problems.”

Dr. Mok said a sedentary life increases the risk of health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity and even type 2 diabetes – all which are taxing on your cardiovascular system.

Still, the research underscores that TV binge-watching seemed to be particularly harmful to the heart, more so than sitting for hours at a time at work. The lead study author notes in a news release, “TV watching occurs at the end of the day where individuals may consume their biggest meal, and people may be completely sedentary with hours of uninterrupted sitting until they go to bed. Eating a large meal and then sitting hours at a time could be a very harmful combination.” Unhealthy snacking that typically accompanies binge-watching also is concerning to researchers.

Even though the research focused on more than 3,500 black adults in Jackson, Mississippi communities who were part of the Jackson Heart Study, ThedaCare cardiovascular specialists say spending large chunks of time in front of the TV can be harmful to the hearts of almost all groups of people.

“It’s wise for everyone to sit up and pay attention to these findings,” she said. “As Americans, we need to move more every day to reduce cardiovascular risks and strive for life-long heart health.”

Whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu, Dr. Mok believes people still can enjoy their favorite TV shows. She simply suggests taking “heart healthy” action before sitting back on the recliner with the remote.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Think “active” watching. Do jumping jacks or other exercises during commercial breaks.
  • Have healthy snacks on hand. Consider fruits and vegetables versus cookies and chips.
  • Drink plenty of water. It is satisfying and helps you stay clear of sugary drinks.
  • Know your numbers. Keep track of blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and body mass index, and look at those numbers to keep you motivated to maintain an active lifestyle.

“If your heart longs for binge-watching, be sure to offset it with some exercise,” she said. “You’ll decrease your chance of a real-life drama involving cardiac distress.”

About ThedaCare

For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to a community of more than 600,000 residents in 14 counties and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals. ThedaCare has 180 locations including seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, New London, Shawano, Waupaca and Wild Rose. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service.

For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.

Media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public Relations Specialist at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.