People with health anxiety are those who are constantly worrying that they are suffering from a diagnosable condition. Based on the latest study, a team of researchers from Norway discovered that healthy anxiety might represent a major factor influencing the development of heart disease.
In the study, the team analyzed 7,052 participants for approximatively twelve years. The findings revealed that people with health anxiety had a 73 percent higher risk of developing a cardiovascular condition.
According to Line Iden Berge, lead author from the University of Bergen, the team accounted for other risk factors besides health anxiety and came to the conclusion that those patients were more likely to develop ischemic heart disease.
The study was called the Norwegian Hordaland Health Study and included participants born between 1953 and 1957. During the study, they had to complete two questionnaires regarding their education, lifestyle, and health status.
Also, from 1997 to 1999, all participants had many physical exams, such as blood pressure, height, weight, and blood tests. The most important pattern which scientists thoroughly monitored was the anxiety level in every patient.
Between 1999 and 2009, all of them were observed as scientists aimed to see how the participants’ health status would evolve. Based on their findings, 710 participants had health anxiety, while 234 of them developed heart disease by 2009.
It is worth mentioning that there was a 7-year median time before the first incident occurred in every patient. According to the scientists, these findings underline the fact that health anxiety can be regarded as an important risk factor related to cardiovascular conditions.
Also, this health anxiety can manifest in a wide range of forms, all leading to a higher risk of heart disease. This means that public health officials and physicians must become aware that they should properly diagnose this type of anxiety when they observe it in a patient.
Moreover, they must provide patients with the appropriate treatment and most importantly to inform them about the risks of health anxiety and how to tackle it. The team underlined that the study was based on patients’ verbal reports, so it didn’t prove a cause-and-effect link.
They further added that chronic health anxiety usually causes unhealthy behaviors including poor diets, drinking, and smoking, as all of them increase the risk of ischemic heart disease. People with health anxiety are strongly recommended to talk to their doctor.
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