cardiovascular disease, depression, emotion regulation, executive function



  1. Spitznagel, Mary Beth PhD
  2. Potter, Vanessa BA
  3. Miller, Lindsay A. BS
  4. Roberts Miller, Angela N. MS, MPH
  5. Hughes, Joel PhD
  6. Rosneck, Jim RN
  7. Gunstad, John PhD


Background: Reduced ability to regulate emotion is exhibited in depressed individuals as well as patients with neurocognitive change. Given that patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) often exhibit both cognitive and mood changes, these could, in combination, lead to increased volatility of emotion.


Objective: The current study examined the association between ability to regulate emotion, depressive symptoms, and cognitive function in a sample of patients with CVD.


Methods: Ninety-one CVD patients referred for outpatient stress testing completed brief cognitive testing and self-report measures of emotion regulation and depressive symptoms.


Results: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that depressive symptoms (P < .001) and executive function (P < .05) independently contribute to emotion regulation. The interaction between these variables demonstrates that elevated depressive symptoms and decreased executive function predict increased emotion dysregulation.


Conclusion: Findings suggest that in combination, elevated depressive symptoms and executive dysfunction contribute to poorer ability to regulate emotion in patients with CVD. Given the prevalence of depression and cognitive change in this population, these findings underscore the importance of clinician awareness of these issues in this population and suggest clinical implications for treatment of mental health issues, especially emotion regulation, in this population.