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ImageScientists have found that spending too much leisure time in front of a TV or computer screen dramatically increases the risk for heart disease and premature death from any cause, perhaps regardless of how much exercise one gets.

Study data show that people who devote more than 4 hours each day on screen-based entertainment like watching TV, using the computer or playing video games, are more than twice as likely to have a major cardiac event that involves hospitalization, death or both compared to those who spend less than 2 hours a day.

The research also suggests metabolic factors and inflammation may partly explain the link between prolonged sitting and the risks to heart health.

These associations were independent of traditional risk factors such as smoking, hypertension, BMI, social class, as well as exercise.

The study included 4,512 adults who were respondents of the 2003 Scottish Health Survey. A total of 325 all-cause deaths and 215 cardiac events occurred during an average of 4.3 years of follow up.

The study has been published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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