Little is known about health anxiety, so a group of Norwegian researchers has conducted a study in which 7,000 people were monitored for ten years.
Although general anxiety is regarded as one of the risks for heart diseases, health anxiety may actually be an influencing factor. According to cardiologists, people who have been experiencing symptoms related to health anxiety should talk to a doctor.
This anxiety occurs when people falsely believe they are suffering from a serious condition. Plus, these people experience no real symptoms, even if they seek medical attention. The latest survey was called the Norwegian Hordaland Health Study, or HUSK.
All participants were born between 1953 and 1957. During the study, they answered various questions about education, lifestyle, and health. Also, researchers took blood samples and recorded the patients’ blood pressure, height, and weight on a regular basis from 1997 to 1999.
By using the scale known as Whiteley Index, the team assessed the health anxiety levels of every participant. After the study, the scientists used the patients’ national data to track medical treatment and mortality rates until 2009.
Based on the findings, 234, meaning 3.3 percent of them suffered heart attacks. Later, these rates increased to over six percent in the group of 710 former study participants. Plus, whenever their degree of anxiety increased, those people had elevated risks of developing cardiovascular conditions.
According to Dr. Line Iden Berge, lead author of the research, although people suffering from health anxiety seek medical attention very often, their risk of developing a heart condition does not drop down at all.
These findings point to the fact that doctors should reassure patients that they are healthy. Also, they can talk to these patients about health anxiety and its risks. According to cardiac nurse Emily Reeve from the British Heart Foundation, is only natural that some people are being worried that they may be suffering from a serious condition.
However, stress and health anxiety can represent primary factors influencing the development of many bad habits, including poor diets and smoking. Even if specialists are not sure whether health anxiety contributes to the development of heart diseases, it is obvious that reducing it will bring great benefits.