OBJECTIVES: The purposes of this database study were to determine: 1) the relationship between mental stress-induced ischemia and ischemia during daily life and during exercise; 2) whether patients who exhibited daily life ischemia experienced greater hemodynamic and catechol- amine responses to mental or physical stress than patients who did not exhibit daily life ischemia, and 3) whether patients who experienced daily life ischemia could be identified on the basis of laboratory-induced ischemia using mental or exercise stress testing. BACKGROUND: The relationships between mental stress- induced ischemia in the laboratory and ischemia during daily life and during exercise are unclear. METHODS: One hundred ninety-six stable patients with documented coronary disease and a positive exercise test underwent mental stress testing and bicycle exercise testing. Radionuclide ventriculography and electrocardiographic CECG) monitoring were performed during the mental stress and bicycle tests. Patients underwent 48 h of ambulatory ECG monitoring. Hemodynamic and catecholamine responses were obtained during mental stress and bicycle tests. RESULTS: Ischemia (reversible left ventricular dysfunction or ST segment depression ≥1 mm) developed in 106 of 183 patients (58%) during the mental stress test. There were no significant differences in clinical characteristics of patients with, compared with those without, mental stress-induced ischemia. Patients with mental stress ischemia more often had daily life ischemia than patients without mental stress ischemia, but their exercise tests were similar. Patients with daily life ischemia had higher ejection fraction and cardiac output, and lower systemic vascular resistance during mental stress than patients without daily life ischemia. Blood pressure and catecholamine levels at rest and during the mental stress tests were not different in patients with, compared with those without, daily life ischemia. Patients with daily life ischemia had a higher ejection fraction at rest and at peak bicycle exercise compared with patients without daily life ischemia, but there were no other differences in peak hemodynamic or catecholamine responses to exercise. The presence of ST segment depression during routine daily activities was best predicted by ST segment depression during mental or bicycle exercise stress, although ST segment depression was rare during mental stress. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with daily life ischemia exhibit a heightened generalized response to mental stress. ST segment depression in response to mental or exercise stress is more predictive of ST segment depression during routine daily activities than other laboratory-based ischemic markers. Therapeutic management strategies might therefore focus on patients with these physiologic responses to stress and on whether lessening such responses reduces ischemia.