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Health anxiety may increase risk of heart disease, study finds

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Bergen, Norway – Worrying about heart disease and other serious illnesses may boost your risk of developing heart disease, according to a recent study.

Using the Hordaland Health Study, a long-term research collaboration in Norway, researchers analyzed data on more than 7,000 people and concluded that the “worried well” – people who are healthy but preoccupied with possible maladies – were twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who showed no signs of health anxiety.

The study highlights the importance of properly diagnosing and treating anxiety, researchers said. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, an estimated 40 million people in the United States have an anxiety disorder. About two-thirds of those people do not receive proper treatment, ADAA states, in spite of the fact that the disorders are highly treatable.

The study was published online Nov. 3 in the journal BMJ Open.

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