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

Leila Shahabi, Kelly Karavolos, Susan A. Everson-Rose, Tené T. Lewis, Karen A. Matthews, Kim Sutton-Tyrrell, Lynda H. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-519
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Source of Funding and Conflicts of Interest: SWAN has grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Department of Health-Human Services, through the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) and the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) (Grants U01NR004061, U01AG012505, U01AG012535, U01AG012531, U01AG012539, U01AG012546, U01AG012553, U01AG012554, U01AG012495). SWAN Heart Ancillary Study has grant support from the NIH, Department of Health-Human Services, through the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) (Grants HL65581 and HL65591). The content of this manuscript is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIA, NINR, ORWH or the NIH. The authors declared no conflicts of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


  • atherosclerosis
  • intima media thickness
  • life satisfaction
  • psychological well-being
  • race
  • women


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