Hypochondriacs who worry needlessly that they might have a serious illness could be increasing their chance of getting one, according to new research, Independent informs.
The study looked at more than 7,000 people who were born in Norway in the 1950s. In all, 234 people in the group had had a heart attack or bout of acute angina by 2009, according to a paper in the journal 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.
The researchers wrote: “These findings illustrate the dilemma for clinicians between reassuring the patient that current physical symptoms of anxiety do not represent heart disease, contrasted against the emerging knowledge on how anxiety, over time, may be causally associated with increased risk of [coronary artery disease].”
They stressed their findings “underline the importance of proper diagnosis and treatment of health anxiety”.