Associations of Psychological Well-Being With Carotid Intima Media Thickness in African American and White Middle-Aged Women

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Abstract

Objectives

The present cross-sectional study aimed to a) examine associations between measures of psychological well-being, specifically life satisfaction and life engagement, and intima media thickness, a subclinical marker of atherosclerosis; b) investigate if the interaction of psychological well-being and life events correlated with intima media thickness; and c) explore these relationships across race.

Methods

A sample of 485 women (38% African American and 62% white; mean [standard deviation] age = 50.2 [2.9] years) underwent ultrasonography to assess carotid artery intima media thickness (IMT). The women completed self-report measures of life satisfaction, life engagement, and life events.

Results

Average (standard deviation) IMT was 0.666 (0.10) mm. Life satisfaction showed a significant, independent, inverse relationship with IMT, after controlling for demographic, behavioral, psychological, and cardiovascular covariates (β = −0.105, p = .039), such that each 1-point higher life satisfaction score was correlated with a significant 0.008-mm lower level of mean IMT. No significant association was seen between life events and IMT (r = 0.05, p = .32), and life satisfaction did not interact with life events on IMT (β = −0.036, p = .46). No significant interaction between life satisfaction and race on IMT was observed (β = 0.068, p = .37). In contrast to life satisfaction, life engagement was not a significant correlate of IMT (r = −0.07, p = .12).

Conclusions

Life satisfaction, a measure of psychological well-being, is an important independent correlate of subclinical atherosclerosis in middle-aged women.

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