Worrying about health increases heart disease risk

In the United States, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness, affecting 40 million adults, or 18 percent of the population.

Anxiety is a known risk factor for heart disease. Previous research indicates a connection between depression and anxiety and the risk of coronary heart disease.

A meta-analysis found that anxious people have a 48 percent higher risk of dying from a heart problem.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), killing 365,000 people in 2014.

New research suggests that the consequences of health anxiety are also serious and the condition should be treated properly.

Health anxiety describes a patient’s excessive worrying over having a serious illness, and seeking medical advice in the absence of a physical disease.

Patients with health anxiety misread physical symptoms as serious illnesses, and they often seek repeated medical help for the same issues. In its most intense form, health anxiety becomes hypochondria.

Health anxiety and heart disease

Researchers led by Line Iden Berge, from the Helse Bergen hospital in Bergen, Norway, examined the link between health anxiety and heart disease. The results were published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Berge and team worked with participants in the Norwegian Hordaland Health Study (HUSK). This long-term study followed participants over a period of 12 years, and it was a collaboration between the National Health Screening Service, the University of Bergen, and local health services.

The 7,052 participants were born between 1953-1957. For the study, they had to answer questions about their health, lifestyle, and educational achievement.

Between 1997-1999, they underwent blood tests, weight, height, and blood pressure measurements.

Participants were also asked to report their anxiety levels using the Whiteley Index. Scores above 90 percent were considered to be anxiety cases.

Over the entire study period, 234 participants, or 3.2 percent of the entire cohort, had an ischemic incident – either a heart attack or acute anginaRead More>>

Source: Medical News Today

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