Objective: We investigated associations between atherosclerosis risk factors (smoking behavior, serum cholesterol, hypertension, body mass index, and functional capacity) and psychological characteristics with suspected linkages to coronary disease (depression, hostility, and anger expression) in an exclusively female cohort.
Methods: Six hundred eighty-eight middle-aged women with chest pain warranting clinical investigation completed a comprehensive diagnostic protocol that included quantitative coronary angiography to assess coronary artery disease (CAD). Primary analyses controlled for menopausal status, age, and socioeconomic status variables (income and education).
Results: High depression scores were associated with a nearly three-fold risk of smoking (odds ratio (OR) = 2.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.4-5.7) after covariate adjustment, and women reporting higher depression symptoms were approximately four times more likely to describe themselves in the lowest category of functional capacity (OR = 3.7, 95% CI = 1.7-7.8). High anger-out scores were associated with a four-fold or greater risk of low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (<50 mg/dl; OR = 4.0, 95% CI = 1.4-11.1) and high low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration (>160 mg/dl; OR = 4.8, 95% CI = 1.5-15.7) and a larger body mass index (OR = 3.5, 95% CI = 1.1-10.8) after covariate adjustment.
Conclusions: These results demonstrate consistent and clinically relevant relationships between psychosocial factors and atherosclerosis risk factors among women and may aid our understanding of the increased mortality risk among women reporting high levels of psychological distress.