The association between cortisol response to mental stress and high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T plasma concentration in healthy adults

Objectives The objective of this study was to examine the association between cortisol response to mental stress and highsensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) in healthy older individuals without history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Background Mental stress is a recognized risk factor for CVD, although the mechanisms remain unclear. Cortisol, a key stress hormone, is associated with coronary atherosclerosis and may accentuate structural and functional cardiac disease. Methods This cross-sectional study involved 508 disease-free men and women aged 53 to 76 years drawn from the Whitehall II epidemiological cohort. We evaluated salivary cortisol response to standardized mental stress tests (exposure) and hs-cTnT plasma concentration using a high-sensitivity assay (outcome). We measured coronary calcification using electron-beam dual-source computed tomography and Agatston scores. Results After adjustment for demographic and clinical variables associated withCVDaswell as for inflammatory factors,wefound a robust association between cortisol response and detectable hs-cTnT (odds ratio [OR]: 3.98; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.60 to 9.92; p¼ 0.003). The association remained when we restricted the analysis to participants without coronary calcification (n¼222; OR: 4.77; 95%CI: 1.22 to 18.72; p¼0.025) or when we further adjusted for coronary calcification in participants with positive Agatston scores (n ¼ 286; OR: 7.39; 95% CI: 2.22 to 26.24; p ¼ 0.001). Conclusions We found that heightened cortisol response to mental stress was associated with detectable plasma levels of cTnT using high-sensitivity assays in healthy participants, independently of coronary atherosclerosis. Further research is needed to understand the role of psychosocial stress in the pathophysiology of cardiac cell damage.