Background In patients with suspected coronary artery disease (CAD), the overall aim was to analyse the relationships between disease severity and both mental and physical dimensions of health related quality of life (HRQOL) using a modified version of the Wilson and Cleary model. Methods Using a cross-sectional design, 753 patients (74% men), mean age 62 years, referred for elective cardiac catheterisation were included. The measures included 1) physiological factors 2) symptoms (disease severity, self-reported symptoms, anxiety and depression 3) self-reported functional status, 4) coping, 5) perceived disease burden, 6) general health perception and 7) overall quality of life. To analyse relationships, we performed linear and ordinal logistic regressions. Results CAD and left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) were significantly associated with symptoms of angina pectoris and dyspnea. CAD was not related to symptoms of anxiety and depression, but less depression was found in patients with low LVEF. Angina pectoris and dyspnea were both associated with impaired physical function, and dyspnea was also negatively related to social function. Overall, less perceived burden and better overall QOL were observed in patients using more confronting coping strategy. Conclusion The present study demonstrated that data from cardiac patients to a large extent support the suggested model by Wilson and Cleary.