Study Reveals Hypochondriacs More Likely to Experience Health Issues

Dec 09, 16 Study Reveals Hypochondriacs More Likely to Experience Health Issues

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It’s easy to worry about your health during flu season, which is rapidly approaching, but for some people, worrying about health becomes an obsession. Psychiatrists classify this disorder as “health anxiety,” but it’s more commonly known as hypochondria. It only affects one to two percent of the population, but a new study has revealed that people who suffer from hypochondria are more likely to develop serious health issues. A large study from Norway took into account the health of 7,052 participants from the Norwegian Hordaland Health Study, which is a long-term research project by the National Health Screening Service and the University of Bergen. On top of the 13 years of data that had already been collected, the researchers studied participants’ level of anxiety and their health during times of stress. After taking these factors into account, the researchers found that approximately 3.3% of the participants experienced a heart attack or acute angina. Of those 3.3%, twice as many had health anxiety as those who did not. If patients had high levels of health anxiety, they were 70% more likely to develop issues with heart health during their lives. While the research did conclude that anxiety should be considered a risk factor for heart disease, there was no causality assessment performed. Simply put, there still isn’t a concrete reason why health anxiety is connected to heart disease. Does awareness of symptoms cause the anxiety, or does the anxiety cause the symptoms? Line Iden Berge, one of the researchers and a PhD candidate at the University of Bergen in Norway, explained that before the study was conducted, she expected the results to show just the opposite of what they did. Stress, however, is a major reason that employees take time off. A new report assessing the health of workers in Britain found that 25% of employees called in sick due to high amounts of stress. Stress and anxiety release a hormone called cortisol, which according to “The Stress Test: How Pressure Can Make You Stronger...

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Study Finds Sleep-Deprived Drivers Are More Likely to Cause Accidents

Dec 08, 16 Study Finds Sleep-Deprived Drivers Are More Likely to Cause Accidents

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Feeling tired behind the wheel? It may be in your best interests to pull over and take a nap. A new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who are sleep-deprived are much more likely to be involved in serious road accidents. In fact, drivers who had less than five hours of sleep within the previous 24 hours had crash risks on par with that of drunk drivers. “If you have not slept seven or more hours in a given 24-hour period, you really shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. Despite widespread awareness of the risks of drinking and driving, many Americans are unaware or neglectful of the dangers of driving on too little sleep. An estimated one in three people in the U.S. don’t get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis, studies show, whether because of stress, work and family obligations, or a simple lack of planning. “Look at your lifestyle,” said Dr. Erich Voigt, a sleep researcher at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “Put aside eight hours that you know you will get sleep. Set your sleep and wake times at the same time every day of the week so you know when you’re going to bed and you know when you’re waking up.” The report came from an analysis of 7,234 drivers involved in 4,571 crashes in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey. Of the six million accidents that occur in the United States every year, averaging about one every 10 seconds, the data included information from accidents where at least one vehicle had to be towed and emergency services had to be called to the scene. “It happens in an instant,” said Karen Roberts, a Cincinnati nurse who was involved in an accident several years ago after falling asleep behind the wheel while she was driving home from a night...

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U.S. Consumer Debt and Loans Continue to Increase

Dec 08, 16 U.S. Consumer Debt and Loans Continue to Increase

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It’s official: Americans are swimming in debt. And many of us are barely keeping our heads above water. The term “consumer debt” refers to the debt accumulated through student loans, car loans, and credit cards. The one thing this debt umbrella doesn’t include is the mortgage on your home. Data shows that Americans are all too willing to utilize these financing options; in some cases, they have no alternative. Compared to figures from a year ago, consumer debt is up by 6%. Even more startlingly, the month of September broke yet another record when consumer debt rose by $19.3 billion. The seemingly endless amount of debt we’re accruing is particularly concerning because our wages have barely moved within the same period. And our spending rose only at a rate of 2.4% during that time. One thing that consumers are buying: cars. Auto loan popularity has risen by 38% from the third quarter of 2012, so it’s no surprise that the average borrower has $17,966 in auto debt. Last year, new car sales hit an all-time high. Not only are car loans being pursued more frequently, but their balances are also increasing. Loan terms are stretching, which means that outstanding balances are growing, too. In fact, outstanding balances for both new and used auto loans and leases jumped up to $1,098 trillion this quarter. Essentially, the terms of vehicle loans are getting longer and the costs are increasing. Then, there are the student loans. Student loans owned by the government increased by $14.2 billion just during the month of September — and by $37.5 billion during the third quarter. And the total number of student loans owned by the government and private-sector lenders clocked in at $1.396 trillion at September’s end. The cost of education is higher than it’s ever been, but many students have no other way besides these loans to fund their educational efforts. Credit card debt has always been common, but these days, so is having a high interest rate. For banks,...

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Study Shows Acupuncture Helps After Mastectomies

Dec 05, 16 Study Shows Acupuncture Helps After Mastectomies

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Acupuncture has been gaining serious popularity over the years. Now, more than 3,000 physicians use acupuncture as part of their clinical practice in the United States. Women who suffer from breast cancer often have to undergo serious invasive surgery and acupuncture is being used more and more to help alleviate some of the subsequent pain. According to News Medical Life Sciences, the women who received acupuncture treatments after their mastectomies at Abbott Northwestern Hospital had much greater reductions in pain, nausea, and anxiety, and were able to better cope on the first day after the surgery compared to patients who received traditional care. “We are always looking for non-pharmacologic pain management options,” said Sue Sendelbach, RN, PhD, director of Nursing Research at Abbott Northwestern. “This study showed that acupuncture in the hospital after mastectomy is not only feasible, it also appears to decrease patients’ symptoms of pain, nausea, and anxiety.” EurekAlert reports that researchers took data from an experiment involving 58 breast cancer survivors experiencing various kinds of pains and symptoms. The benefits of administering electro-acupuncure were examined for each of the breast cancer survivors. The study showed the testing to be equal to, if not better than, gabapentin in helping to alleviate pain, reduce hot flashes, and improve the quality of sleep. “We chose electro-acupuncture in particular because it has been shown to affect endorphins and other central neuropeptides offering biological plausibility for addressing hot flashes,” Dr. Shelia N. Garland, PhD, of Memorial University and one of the researchers involved in the study. According to Endocrinology Advisor, the patients were randomly assigned to receive eight weeks of treatment with either the acupuncture method or gabapentin. “This study shows that, for women who need or choose to avoid medications, electro-acupuncture may be an option because it has minimal risks,” said JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, and executive director of the North American Menopause...

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