Association between symptoms of psychological distress and cognitive functioning among adults with coronary artery disease

Kasra Moazzami, Mariana Garcia, An Young, Zakaria Almuwaqqat, Bruno B. Lima, Afif Martini, Mhmtjamil Alkhalaf, Amit J. Shah, Felicia C. Goldstein, Ihab Hajjar, Allan I. Levey, J. Douglas Bremner, Arshed A. Quyyumi, Viola Vaccarino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Greater psychological distress is associated with cognitive impairment in healthy adults. Whether such associations also exist in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) is uncertain. We assessed cognitive function in 496 individuals with CAD using the verbal and visual memory subtests of the Wechsler Memory Scale and executive functioning measured by the Trail Making Test Parts A and B. We used a composite score of psychological distress derived through summation of Z-transformed psychological distress symptom scales (depression, posttraumatic stress, anxiety, anger, hostility and perceived stress) and scores for each individual psychological scale. Multivariable linear regression models were used to determine the association between memory scores (as outcomes) and the psychological distress scores (both composite score and individual scales). After adjusting for demographic and cardiovascular risk factors, a higher psychological distress score was independently associated with worse memory and executive functioning. Each standard deviation increase in psychological distress score was associated with 3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 1%–5%) to 5% (95% CI, 3–7%) worse cognitive performance (higher Trail A and Trail B, and lower verbal and visual memory scores). Among individuals with CAD, a higher level of psychological distress is independently associated with worse cognitive performance. These findings suggest that psychological risk factors play a role in cognitive trajectories of persons with CAD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)538-546
Number of pages9
JournalStress and Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • cognitive impairment
  • coronary artery disease
  • psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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