Induction of silent myocardial ischemia with mental stress testing: relation to the triggers of ischemia during daily life activities and to ischemic functional severity

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1994 Dec;24(7):1645-51. doi: 10.1016/0735-1097(94)90169-4.


Objectives: This study examined the relations among the triggers of ischemia during the activities of daily life, mental stress-induced ischemia in the laboratory and functional severity of ischemia on exercise testing.

Background: Myocardial ischemia is readily induced with exercise testing, but most episodes of ischemia in daily life occur during relatively sedentary activities. Although mental and emotional arousal are known to trigger myocardial ischemia, mental stress testing induces ischemia in only approximately 50% of patients with active coronary disease. It is not known whether such patients are particularly susceptible to nonexertional ischemia during daily activity.

Methods: We studied 45 men (mean age +/- SD 58 +/- 9 years) with coronary artery disease by means of 48-h Holter ambulatory electrocardiography for ST segment analysis and quantification of physical and mental activity with a structured diary system. These data were cross-tabulated with new left ventricular dyssynchrony (detected on two-dimensional echocardiography) induced by two mental stressors and by bicycle exercise.

Results: During mental stress testing, 24 patients (53%) (Group I) had a new wall motion abnormality; the other 21 patients (Group II) did not. The average wall motion dyssynchrony score increased from 1.20 +/- 0.29 to 1.34 +/- 0.36 (p = 0.001), but the increase was less than that with exercise stress (1.52 +/- 0.41, p = 0.001). The total duration of ischemia during sedentary activities was greater in Group I (22.9 +/- 24.5 min) than in Group II (3.6 +/- 3.9 min, p = 0.025). Group I had more ischemic events while sedentary (23 of 290 diary entries) than did Group II (8 of 256 diary entries, p = 0.015). The magnitude of dyssynchrony with mental stress and the number of mental stressors capable of triggering ischemia were related to severity of ischemia with exercise.

Conclusions: Patients with ischemia during mental stress testing also have increased ischemia during sedentary activities in daily life. This finding may reflect greater functional severity of coronary artery disease or a propensity toward coronary vasoconstriction while sedentary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology*
  • Echocardiography
  • Electrocardiography, Ambulatory
  • Exercise Test*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Contraction
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Vasoconstriction