Emmanuel Stamatakis of the University College London says people who spend 2 hours each day on screen-based entertainment like watching TV, using the computer or playing video games may place themselves at greater risk for a cardiac event.
The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found a 48 percent increased risk of all-cause mortality in those spending 4 or more hours a day in front of a screen and an approximately 125 percent increase in risk of cardiovascular events in those spending 2 or more hours a day, compared to those who spent fewer than 2 hours a day at the screen.
The findings held even after taking into account smoking, hypertension, body mass index, social class and exercise.
The study involved 4,512 adults who were respondents of the 2003 Scottish Health Survey, which included a total of 325 deaths and 215 cardiac events during an average of 4.3 years of follow-up.
"It is all a matter of habit. Many of us have learned to go back home, turn the TV set on and sit down for several hours – it's convenient and easy to do," Stamatakis says in a statement. "But doing so is bad for the heart and our health in general."