Pandemic restrictions have made our bond with all things digital stronger. While things are slowly crawling back to normal, our screen time refuses to come down with most of the schools still operating in digital mode and offices encouraging work from home.
Excess screen time has wreaked havoc on our mental and physical health leaving us with back and neck pain, extra weight, eye strain, anxiety, and at risk of several lifestyle diseases. Recent studies have also suggested connection of increased screen time with stroke.
“A 2021 study published in the Stroke Journal of the American Stroke Association stated that adults under 60 with increased screen time exposure and sedentary lifestyles, are prone to a stroke than those physically active,” says Dr Ujwal Yeole, Consultant-Neurosurgeon, Fortis Hospital Kalyan.
The study suggested that one’s life expectancy reduces by up to 22 minutes for every hour of digital screen time and makes the person more prone to a stroke and various heart ailments, cancer, etc. Another UK based study showed that the possibility of a stroke was significantly high with continued 2-hour exposure to digital screens (laptop, TV, cell phone, etc.). Beyond two hours and in cases of addiction, the chance of a stroke increases by 20%. Thus, a sedentary lifestyle and unlimited screen time are some major risk factors for stroke.
“The pandemic has pushed us into a situation where most working adults and children are required to stick to their screens for prolonged hours, either for work or academics. These are the times when we must be highly cautious of our health. The young generation is also infamous for being glued to their mobile screens, all of which escalates the possibility of a stroke. Blue light from screens reduces Melatonin production (the hormone released at night associated with control of the sleep-wake cycle- the Circadian Rhythm), which makes it difficult to sleep and wake up on time,” says Dr Yeole.
Sedentary lifestyle can put one at risk of getting diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart conditions, etc and in turn also increase the risk of getting stroke.
“A person with diabetes is twice as likely to suffer from a stroke, as the damaged blood vessels hasten the onset of Ischemic Stroke (happens from a blood clot blocking or narrowing the artery to the brain). High LDL (bad cholesterol levels) initiates the build-up of plaque in the arteries, which ends up restricting blood flow to the brain, thus leading to a stroke. Hypertension is the cause for approximately 50% of Ischemic Strokes and increases the threat of Hemorrhagic Stroke (brain bleed),” says Dr Yeole.
Reducing our screen time by taking frequent breaks from work, exercising regularly and adopting a more active lifestyle can help cut the risk of stroke significantly. One can go for a morning walk or evening walk, or do Yoga for better health.