Hypochondriacs proved right / News / The Foreigner

Hypochondriacs proved right. People obsessed with health increase their chances of developing heart disease, new research in Norway finds. The study, published in BMJ Open, shows that the amount of worrying about illness is actually linked to a 70 per cent risk of heart disease. “Ischaemic heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease) is largely influenced by lifestyle. Interestingly, cohort studies show that anxiety in general is associated with increased risk of IHD,” researchers state.

health, hypochondriac, disease, paywall



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Hypochondriacs proved right

Published on Tuesday, 8th November, 2016 at 10:58 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .
Last Updated on 8th November 2016 at 12:52.

People obsessed with health increase their chances of developing heart disease, new research in Norway finds.

Tombstone with inscription
Tombstone with inscription
Photo: Sue Rangell/Wikimedia Commons


The study, published in BMJ Open, shows that the amount of worrying about illness is actually linked to a 70 per cent risk of heart disease.

“Ischaemic heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease) is largely influenced by lifestyle. Interestingly, cohort studies show that anxiety in general is associated with increased risk of IHD,” researchers state.

Some five to ten per cent of people have health anxiety, and are focused on trying to avoid getting ill.

For their study, researchers collected data of more than 7,000 people born in the 1950’s in a long-term, community-based Norwegian health study called the Hordaland Health Study (HUSK) – Hordaland is a county in western Norway.

Participants were asked to fill in questionnaires, had taken a physical examination around 1997, and were measured according to a health anxiety scale.

Heart health was tracked by studying national hospital and death data through 2009.

Six per cent of people with health anxiety had developed coronary heart disease – which includes heart attack (myocardial infarction) – during the course of those 12 years.

Some three per cent (234 people) of the group of 7,052 participants had done so – researchers term these as “non-cases”.

A roughly 70% increased risk of IHD was found among cases with health anxiety, even when they controlled for established cardiovascular risk factors in the years of follow-up.

“We found there was a surprisingly strong association between levels of health anxiety and the risk of ischemic heart disease,” remarks University of Bergen and Sandviken University Hospital’s Dr Line Iden Berge, one of the researchers.

They define health anxiety as being characterised “by persistent preoccupation of having or acquiring a serious illness, misattribution of bodily symptoms and urge to seek medical advice in the absence of physical pathology."

While they do not know if living with health anxiety over time has adverse consequences, they suggest that people might benefit from seeking treatment for this (also known as hypochondria).

Deutsche Welle has reported about a clinic for hypochondriacs in Bergen. Dr.Ingvard Wilhelmsen, who runs it, told them that patients are usually referred to him by their doctor or psychiatrist.

He uses cognitive therapy to help patients realise and understand that their problem is not a genuine disease, but more about their anxiety about health. 

“People with hypochondria - excessive health anxiety - always were told what they didn't have - they didn't have cancer, they didn't have heart disease,” he told the German broadcaster. “But seldom were they told what they actually had and what to do about it. So I wanted to focus on that one.”

The Haraldsplass Deaconal Hospital (HDS) is a university hospital in Bergen. Medical students at The University of Bergen’s Medical Faculty have their first clinical term at HDS.

According to DW, about 50,000 thousand Norwegians have hypochondria (2005 figures).

“The underlying thing is that they [hypochondriacs] have a demand not to die now. […] Of course you're bound to misinterpret symptoms if you believe everything is very dangerous the moment you get them. You have to accept that you are mortal, and don't spend too much energy on controlling death. That's my advice to them,” said Dr Wilhelmsen.



Published on Tuesday, 8th November, 2016 at 10:58 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson and Sarah Bostock   .
Last updated on 8th November 2016 at 12:52.

This post has the following tags: health, hypochondriac, disease, paywall.





  
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