This paper evaluated cross-sectional relationships between psychological stress and coronary artery disease (CAD) risk among women with suspected ischemia and no obstructive coronary artery disease (INOCA). Between 1996 and 2000, 551 women with INOCA were enrolled in the Women’s Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) cohort from four U.S. institutions. Between 2009 and 2012, 376 women with INOCA were recruited from two U.S. institutions for an independent cohort study titled WISE-Coronary Vascular Dysfunction (WISE-CVD). Participants underwent coronary angiography and testing for CAD symptoms and risk factors at baseline.
Psychological stress was assessed in the form of home/work stress in WISE and home/work stress and financial stress in WISE-CVD. Results showed that home/work stress predicted greater depression, functional impairment, CAD symptoms, and lower self-rated health in WISE but was inconsistent as a predictor in WISE-CVD. In contrast, >60% of WISE-CVD women reported moderate or severe financial stress. Financial stress levels predicted more CAD risk factors and cardiac symptoms, poorer self-rated health, and greater depression and functional impairment. Among women with INOCA, psychological stress was associated with CAD symptoms and CAD risk factors. The prevalence and predictive value of psychological stress in this population supports the inclusion of stress measures in future CAD research.