Associations between positive emotional well-being and stress-induced myocardial ischemia: Well-being scores predict exercise-induced ischemia

Jacob P. Feigal, Stephen H. Boyle, Zainab Samad, Eric J. Velazquez, Jennifer L. Wilson, Richard C. Becker, Redford B. Williams, Cynthia M. Kuhn, Thomas L. Ortel, Joseph G. Rogers, Christopher M. O'Connor, Wei Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Depressive symptoms have been associated with myocardial ischemia induced by mental (MSIMI) and exercise (ESIMI) stress in clinically stable ischemic heart disease (IHD) patients, but the association between positive emotions and inducible ischemia is less well characterized. The objective of this study was to examine the associations between ratings of well-being and stress-induced ischemia. Methods Subjects were adult patients with documented IHD underwent mental and exercise stress testing for the Responses of Myocardial Ischemia to Escitalopram Treatment (REMIT) trial. The General Well-Being Schedule (GWBS), with higher scores reflecting greater subjective well-being, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) were obtained from the REMIT participants. Echocardiography was used to measure ischemic responses to mental stress and Bruce protocol treadmill exercise testing. Data were analyzed using logistic regression adjusting for age, sex, resting left-ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), and resting wall motion score index, as well as health-related behaviors. Results GWBS scores were obtained for 210 individuals, with MSIMI present in 92 (43.8%) and ESIMI present in 64 (30.5%). There was a significant inverse correlation between GWBS-PE (Positive Emotion subscale) scores and probability of ESIMI (OR = 0.55 (95%CI 0.36–0.83), p = 0.005). This association persisted after additional control for CESD subscales measuring negative and positive emotions and for variables reflecting health-related behaviors. A similar inverse correlation between GWBS-PE and MSIMI was observed, but did not reach statistical significance (OR = 0.81 (95%CI 0.54–1.20), p = 0.28). Conclusion This is, to our knowledge, the first study demonstrating that greater levels of self-reported positive emotions are associated with a lower likelihood of ESIMI among patients with known IHD. Our results highlight the important interface functions of the central nervous and cardiovascular systems and underscore areas for future investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-18
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Coronary heart disease
  • Exercise induced ischemia
  • General well-being scale
  • General Well-Being Schedule
  • Mental stress induced ischemia
  • Positive emotions


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