Too Much Computer Time Increases Stroke Risk, According to AHA

Too Much Computer Time Increases Stroke Risk, According to AHA

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A new study reveals that spending excess time doing leisurely, sedentary activities quadruples stroke risk in young adults. The risk is highest in sedentary people–those who spend eight or more hours per day engaged in little physical activity. Researchers define sedentary leisure time as any activity done sitting or lying down. This could include spending free time watching TV, using a computer or smartphone, or reading.

However, they found that increasing physical activity could reduce or eliminate the elevated stroke risk from excess sedentary time. Participants in the study who engaged in more physical activity had a lower risk of stroke, unsurprisingly. Researchers say that public health efforts to encourage more physical activity in adults younger than sixty could lower their stroke risk.

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The research was published earlier this month in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

According to the AHA, US adults spend an alarming amount of time connected to devices each day. On average, adults spend 10.5 hours a day consuming media on smartphones, computers, or TVs. The data showed that adults aged 50 to 64 spend the most time using media out of all age groups. It also revealed that stroke-related deaths decreased in 2010 among adults 65 years and older.

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However, stroke deaths among younger adults ages 35 to 64 have been increasing in the same time period. In 2010, 14.7 in every 100,000 adults of this age group died from a stroke compared to 15.4 per 100,000 in 2016.

The AHA believes that a dramatic increase in sedentary time is to blame. Prior research suggests that cardiovascular disease risk, including stroke, increases with more sedentary time. Modifiable risk factors such as a sedentary lifestyle contribute to nearly 90% of strokes.

Excess Sedentary Leisure Time Increases Stroke Risk in Young Adults

stroke risk
“Sedentary time is increasing in the United States and Canada,” said study author Raed A. Joundi, M.D., D.Phil., a stroke fellow in the department of clinical neurosciences at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary in Canada. “Sedentary time is the duration of awake activities that are done sitting or lying down. Leisure sedentary time is specific to the sedentary activities done while not at work. It is important to understand whether high amounts of sedentary time can lead to stroke in young individuals, as a stroke can cause premature death or significantly impair function and quality of life.”

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For the study, researchers analyzed the health and lifestyle of 143,000 adults with no history of stroke, heart disease, or cancer. They participated in the Canadian Community Health Survey in 2000, 2003, 2005, and 2007-2012. The research team studied the participants for an average of 9.4 years (until Dec. 31, 2017) and used hospital records to identify stroke events.

After reviewing the participants’ time spent each day in leisure sedentary activities, they organized the data into groups. The team divided leisure time into the following categories:

  • less than four hours per day;
  • four to less than six hours per day;
  • six to less than eight hours per day, and;
  • eight or more hours per day.

Researchers also categorized physical activity into quartiles or four equal categories. The lowest quartile corresponded with the least physically active participants. The physical activity of this group equated to going for a walk for ten or fewer minutes daily.

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