The assessment of myocardial ischemia represents a cornerstone in our approach to coronary artery disease. Indeed many of the clinical decisions we make revolve around the results of stress testing, the assessment of coronary luminal stenoses and, more recently, fractional flow reserve measurements. Whilst the assessment of ischemia is often useful with respect to diagnosis and its treatment important in terms of symptom relief, whether ischemia directly leads to adverse cardiovascular outcomes, in particular myocardial infarction, is much more controversial. Indeed this is one of the key questions facing cardiology practice today and the focus of an ongoing multimillion-dollar study, the ISCHEMIA trial. In this editorial the authors examine some of the underlying evidence and ask the question: is ischemia itself really bad for you?