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

2 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


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


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