Hypochondria and Heart Disease

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Worrying about getting sick may actually make you sick. That’s the conclusion of a new study from Norway that suggests hypochondriacs are at greater risk for heart disease, reports The Guardian (U.K.). Researchers asked 7,052 adults to complete questionnaires about their health concerns and then undergo physical exams. About 10 percent of volunteers had “health anxiety” they essentially worried about ailments they didn’t have. When the researchers tracked the volunteers’ heart health for 12 years, they found that those with health anxiety were 71 percent likelier to develop cardiac problems. The more severe their anxiety, the higher their risk. These findings don’t prove that hypochondria causes’ heart disease, but the study’s authors nevertheless believe that taking steps to ease unnecessary anxiety could have health benefits. “Instead of worrying about what’s going on with your body and running to the doctor for any physical health problem,” says lead author Line Iden Berge, “People should seek a proper diagnosis and help for the anxiety disorder.”

 

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