Effect of negative emotions on frequency of coronary heart disease (The Normative Aging Study)

John F. Todaro, Biing Jiun Shen, Raymond Niaura, Avron Spiro, Kenneth D. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Negative emotions, such as depression and anxiety, have been associated with the development of coronary heart disease (CHD). In multivariate models, negative emotions have predicted CHD outcomes, such as nonfatal myocardial infarction and CHD mortality. Few studies, however, have investigated this relation while controlling for variables associated with the metabolic syndrome or those indicative of sympathetic nervous system activity. We prospectively examined the relation between negative emotions and incident CHD in older men (mean 60.3 ± 7.9 years) participating in the Normative Aging Study (NAS). Four hundred ninety-eight men who completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and who participated in a subsequent laboratory assessment were included in the study. All men were not on medication and free of diagnosed CHD and diabetes. Negative emotions were measured by the MMPI Welsh A scale, which is comprised of 39 items measuring symptoms of depression and anxiety. Negative emotion score, sociodemographic characteristics, health behaviors, components of the metabolic syndrome, and stress hormones were used to predict incident CHD over a 3-year follow-up period. During follow-up, 45 CHD events were observed. In unadjusted logistic regression analyses, negative emotions significantly predicted the incidence of CHD (odds ratio [OR] 1.06, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01 to 1.10, p = 0.02). After adjusting for potential covariates, negative emotions continued to predict the incidence of CHD (OR 1.06, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.12, p = 0.02) A linear, dose-response relation was observed (chi-square 10.8, degree of freedom 2, p = 0.005): participants who had the highest level of negative emotions experienced the greatest incidence of CHD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-906
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Cardiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 15 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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