AUSTRALIA

Every hour spent watching TV on the sofa raises risk of stroke by 14%, study warns 

Every hour spent on the sofa during the day in your 60s raises the risk of a stroke by 14 per cent, a study has warned.

Researchers found sedentary activities like watching TV or reading were associated with higher rates of the deadly complication.

People who were sedentary for 13 hours or more of their waking day were 44 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke than those who spent less then 11 hours sitting still.

By contrast, doing just 25 minutes of moderate exercise, like brisk walking or cycling, per day was found to reduce the risk by more than 40 per cent.

Past research has shown that being sedentary can lead to fatty material building up in your arteries, which in turn increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Physical activity helps reduce stroke risk by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and reducing these fatty deposits.

US researchers found that every hour spent being sedentary in your 60s raises the stroke risk by 14 per cent (stock image)

Experts from San Diego State University attached movement tracking devices to 7,607 American men and women, with an average age of 63.

Participants were asked to wear a hip-mounted accelerometer, which tracked how much they moved and at what intensity, for a week.

THE CAUSES OF STROKE 

There are two major kinds of stroke: 

1. ISCHEMIC STROKE 

An ischemic stroke – which accounts for 80 per cent of strokes – occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from reaching part of the brain.

2. HEMORRHAGIC STROKE 

The more rare, a hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when a blood vessel bursts, flooding part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply.

It can be the result of an AVM, or arteriovenous malformation (an abnormal cluster of blood vessels), in the brain.

Thirty percent of subarachnoid hemorrhage sufferers die before reaching the hospital. A further 25 per cent die within 24 hours. And 40 per cent of survivors die within a week.

RISK FACTORS

Age, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, family history, and history of a previous stroke or TIA (a mini stroke) are all risk factors for having a stroke.

SYMPTOMS OF A STROKE

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

OUTCOMES 

Of the roughly three out of four people who survive a stroke, many will have life-long disabilities.

This includes difficulty walking, communicating, eating, and completing everyday tasks or chores. 

TREATMENT 

Both are potentially fatal, and patients require surgery or a drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) within three hours to save them. 

They had to have it on and attached for 16 hours during the day but were allowed to take it off for eight hours at night while in bed.

The results were then used to calculate their average time each waking day spent being sedentary, doing light physical activity, such as walking around the house, or more intense like exercising on a bike or brisk walking.

Sedentary was defined as sitting in a chair, lying on a couch or even standing for long periods. 

Researchers then analysed their medical records seven years later, during which time 286 strokes were recorded.

Researchers found people who were the most sedentary – who barely moved for 13 or more hours per day –  were at the highest risk of stroke.

They were 44 per cent more likely to suffer a stroke within seven years compared to people who were sedentary for 11 hours or less per day.

The scientists calculated for every extra hour per day spent sedentary raised the risk of a stroke by 14 per cent.

But lead author of the study, Dr Steven Hooker, said the finding also showed stroke risk could be reduced with exercise. 

Getting in three-and-a-half hours of light exercise per week was also shown to reduce the risk of a stroke by 26 per cent, compared to moving less than two hours per day.

Light exercise could include doing housework or walking around the house.

An even greater protective effect was recorded in people who did harder physical activity.

Those who did 14 or more minutes of moderate or vigorous exercise – like going on a brisk walk, cycle or even gardening  – saw their risk fall by 47 per cent, compared to people who did less than three minutes per day. 

Dr Hooker said the optimal amount of moderate exercise for people in their 60s was approximately 25 minutes per day, based on the data.

Dr Hooker, noted that the study did have some limitations however, firstly was that the hip mounted accelerometers did not record any physical activity from the waist up or the position people were sedentary in.

Another limitation was that the accelerometers only captured a seven-day snapshot of a person’s activity levels which could change over the follow-up period. 

Lastly the authors acknowledged their small sample size of strokes meant they did not do separate analysis of the different stroke types, ischemic and haemorrhagic.

An ischemic stroke – which accounts for 80 per cent of strokes – occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel that prevents blood from reaching part of the brain. 

The team published their findings in the journal JAMA Network Open

A hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, occurs when a blood vessel bursts, flooding part of the brain with too much blood while depriving other areas of adequate blood supply. 

Stroke is a leading global cause of death and disability. 

There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year, causing 38,000 deaths. About 1.3million people in the UK are survivors of stroke. 

In the US more than 795,000 people suffer a stroke each year, of which 137,000 die.

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