Current Perspective on Mental Stress–Induced Myocardial Ischemia

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Abstract

Mental stress and emotional arousal can act as triggers of myocardial infarction and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes. This editorial presents an overview of the research on mental stress–induced myocardial ischemia (MSIMI) and comments on two investigations examining MSIMI published in this journal. These studies confirm that MSIMI is frequently observed in patients with coronary artery disease and that characteristics, such as being a woman younger than 50 years and depression, may increase the relative risk of MSIMI. The method used for determining MSIMI (i.e., assessing cardiac function as determined by echocardiography versus measurement of myocardial perfusion using single-photon emission computed tomography), as well as the nature of the mental stress protocols (i.e., one stress task versus several repeated tasks), may have important effects on the findings of MSIMI research and on their interpretation. An overview of clinical characteristics of MSIMI is presented, and the article concludes with possible directions for future MSIMI research.

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