Health fears increase the likelihood of heart disease
Certainly no one wishes to suffer from a serious illness. However, hypochondriacs often worry unnecessarily about many diseases. Researchers have now found that hypochondriacs are more likely to have a heart attack.
In a recent study, the University of Bergen scientists found that so-called hypochondriacs get heart disease more often because of their unnecessary worries. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "BMJ Open".
What is hypochondria?
Hypochondria is a mental disorder. With this form of the disease, those affected suffer from very pronounced, unfounded fears of suffering from a serious illness, although there is no objective evidence to support this.
Doctors examine more than 7,000 study participants
The current study examined more than 7,000 subjects who were born in Norway in the 1950s. Of these participants, a total of 234 people had a heart attack or an attack of acute angina pectoris.
Hypochondria increases the likelihood of heart disease
"If people worry unnecessarily about their health (hypochondria), this increases the likelihood of developing heart disease by 73 percent compared to people without such fears," the experts explain. These results illustrate the dilemma faced by doctors and medical professionals. On the one hand, doctors should try to reassure their patients that current physical symptoms of anxiety do not lead to heart disease. On the other hand, there is now increasing knowledge about the effects of fear, the researchers say. “This shows how fears are causally associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease. The results also underline the importance of correctly diagnosing and treating anxiety, ”the researchers emphasize.
Constant monitoring does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
The characteristic behavior of people with anxiety includes close monitoring and frequent checking of alleged symptoms. However, such constant monitoring does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, the experts add.
Subjects had to fill out questionnaires and undergo physical examinations
The study participants completed questionnaires about their health, lifestyle, and completed education. In addition, a physical examination was carried out, which determined the blood pressure, weight and height of the test subjects, the scientists explain. In addition, blood samples were taken from the participants.
The subjects' health and fears were closely monitored
The doctors then monitored the heart health of the participants. To do this, they used the international data on hospital treatment for heart disease and death certificates. Anxiety was measured using a standardized scale called the Whitely Index, the authors explain.
Fears can harm your health
The study did not show the causal relationship between anxiety and heart disease, but that current thinking can really be harmful to health, the researchers emphasize. If people are afraid of possible diseases and their health, they can also suffer from other mental health problems such as depression. That could be the underlying problem for these people, the scientists speculate. (as)