Health, Zoomer Report

Hypochondria and Heart Disease

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We all know people who seem to be obsessively and excessively worried about their health. Here’s a new downside to hypochondria. A large study out of norway finds that those who worry needlessly that they might have a serious illness could be increasing their chance of getting one.

The study followed more than 7,000 people born in the 1950s for 13 years. By 2009, 234 people in the group had had a heart attack or bout of acute angina according to the paper in BMJ Open. But those who were anxious about their health, known as the ‘worried well’, were 73 per cent more likely to go on to develop heart disease than those who were not.

This research can’t tell us why health anxiety was linked to a higher risk of heart disease. It could be that the hypochondriacs could sense some of those early symptoms that would eventually develop into disease, giving them good reason to worry. Or it could be that all that worrying could trigger heart issues, as other research has suggested. The researchers stressed their findings “underline the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment of health anxiety which affects 1 or 2 percent of the population.

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