Mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia and cognitive impairment in coronary atherosclerosis

Kasra Moazzami, Samaah Sullivan, Bruno B. Lima, Jeong Hwan Kim, Muhammad Hammadah, Zakaria Almuwaqqat, Amit J. Shah, Ihab Hajjar, Felicia C. Goldstein, Allan I. Levey, J. Douglas Bremner, Arshed A. Quyyumi, Viola Vaccarino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand if presence of mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia (MSIMI) is associated with higher prevalence of cognitive impairment at baseline and its decline over time. Methods: A cohort of participants with stable coronary atherosclerosis underwent acute mental stress testing using a series of standardized speech/arithmetic stressors. The stress/rest digital vasomotor response to mental stress (sPAT) was assessed to measure microvascular constriction during mental stress. Patients received 99mTc-sestamibi myocardial perfusion imaging at rest, with mental stress and with conventional (exercise/pharmacological) stress. Cognitive function was assessed both at baseline and at a 2 year follow-up using the Trail Making Test parts A and B and the verbal and visual memory subtests of the Wechsler Memory Scale. Results: We studied 486 individuals (72% male, 32.1% Black, 62 ± 9 (mean ± SD) years old). After multivariable adjustment for baseline demographics, risk factors, and medication use, presence of MSIMI was associated with 21% and 20% slower completion of Trail-A and Trail-B, respectively (p for all <0.01). After a 2-year follow-up period, presence of MSIMI was associated with a 33% slower completion of Trail-B, denoting cognitive decline (B = 0.33, 95% CI, 0.04, 0.62). A lower sPAT, indicating greater vasoconstriction, mediated the association between MSIMI and worsening Trail-B performance by 18.2%. Ischemia with a conventional stress test was not associated with any of the cognitive tests over time. Conclusion: MSIMI is associated with slower visuomotor processing and worse executive function at baseline and with greater decline in these abilities over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number110342
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive impairment
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Mental stress
  • Vasoconstriction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia and cognitive impairment in coronary atherosclerosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this