The study showed people who worried most about their health for no reason were more likely to develop heart disease.
Hypochondriacs have an ability to worry about their health and form anxiety around their physical wellness. Acting in this way may seems unnecessary yet harmless but a new study has found constantly worrying about your health could cause more harm than good.
Researchers in Norway may have found a link between health anxiety and the increased risk of heart disease.
The team investigated data taken from the Norwegian Hordaland Health Study (HUSK) whereby 7000 people were examined for health anxiety levels over the course of a decade. Questionnaires were completed by the participants about their health, lifestyle, and education as well as full health checks being carried out.
Out of the group of participants – who were all born between 1953 and 1957 – 710 were considered to suffer from health anxiety and after a decade 234 suffered from heart-related disease. Almost double the amount of people in the health anxiety group had heart disease compared with the non-health anxiety group.
After making calculations and considering extra contributing factors, people with health anxiety were 71 percent more likely to develop heart disease.
“These findings illustrate the dilemma for clinicians between reassuring the patient that current physical symptoms of anxiety do not represent heart disease, contrasted against the emerging knowledge on how anxiety, over time, may be causally associated with increased risk of [coronary artery disease],” commented the researchers, led by Dr Line Iden Berge. But anxiety and stress can trigger unhealthy habits, such as smoking or eating badly, which put you at greater risk of heart disease.”
“While we don’t know if the ‘worried well’ are directly putting themselves at risk of a heart attack, it’s clear that reducing unnecessary anxiety can have health benefits. If you are experiencing health anxiety, speak to your doctor.”
Details of the study were published in the journal BMJ Open.