Mental stress provokes ischemia in coronary artery disease subjects without exercise- or adenosine-induced ischemia

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Mar 7;47(5):987-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2005.10.051. Epub 2006 Feb 9.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility that some patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) but negative exercise or chemical stress test results might have mental stress-induced ischemia. The study population consisted solely of those with negative test results.

Background: Mental stress-induced ischemia has been reported in 20% to 70% of CAD subjects with exercise-induced ischemia. Because mechanisms of exercise and mental stress-induced ischemia may differ, we studied whether mental stress would produce ischemia in a proportion of subjects with CAD who have no inducible ischemia with exercise or pharmacologic tests.

Methods: Twenty-one subjects (14 men, 7 women) with a mean age of 67 years and with a documented history of CAD were studied. All subjects had a recent negative nuclear stress test result (exercise or chemical). Subjects completed a speaking task involving role playing a difficult interpersonal situation. A total of 30 mCi 99mTc-sestamibi was injected at one minute into the speech, and imaging was started 40 min later. A resting image obtained within one week was compared with the stress image. Images were analyzed for number and severity of perfusion defects. The summed difference score based on the difference between summed stress and rest scores was calculated. Severity was assessed using a semiquantitative scoring method from zero to four.

Results: Six of 21 (29%) subjects demonstrated reversible ischemia (summed difference score > or =3) with mental stress. No subject had chest pain or electrocardiographic changes during the stressor. Mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate all increased between resting and times of peak stress.

Conclusions: Mental stress may produce ischemia in some subjects with CAD and negative exercise or chemical nuclear stress test results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coronary Artery Disease / complications*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / psychology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Ischemia / etiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*


  • Adenosine