You May Love TV, But Cutting Back Could Give Your Heart A Healthy Boost

As the leading cause of death in the U.S., coronary heart disease (CHD) occurs when there is insufficient blood flow to the heart due to blockages caused by an accumulation of fat deposits in the arteries (via National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute). Smoking, a lack of physical activity, and having high blood pressure or cholesterol levels are a few factors that can increase one's risk for the condition. While genetics also play a role in how likely someone is to develop CHD, a new study published in BMC Medicine suggests there are factors within our control that can help mitigate the risk. Specifically, putting down the TV remote.

The researchers looked at health data from over 370,000 U.K. adults with no medical history of coronary heart disease. They noted that presently, people spend roughly two-thirds of their downtime looking at screens — predominantly in the form of watching TV or using the computer. In an examination of these two sedentary activities, researchers determined that watching less than one hour of television daily could cut heart disease rates by 11%.

Potential links between TV-watching and coronary heart disease risk

Participants with a genetic predisposition for the condition were most at risk of developing coronary heart disease (via HealthDay). But researchers found that regardless of genetic susceptibility, those who watched television for upwards of four hours daily were most prone to developing the disease. The research also showed that the less time a person spent watching television, the lower their risk. Specifically, those who engaged in two to three hours of TV-watching daily were 6% less likely to develop the condition. Those who watched less than an hour of TV per day were at a 16% lower risk.

"Reducing time spent watching TV should be recognized as a key behavioral target for prevention of coronary heart disease, irrespective of genetic susceptibility and traditional risk markers," lead author on the study, Youngwon Kim, stated via HealthDay. He added that doing so could be particularly beneficial for high-risk individuals.

Experts weighed in on the potential connections between TV watching and coronary heart disease risk (per HealthDay). Suggested factors included the likelihood of increased snacking, exposure to fast food advertisements, and engagement in a sedentary activity over a physical activity.