Heart Disease and Hearing Loss Linked

hearing loss

Gen Xers and baby boomers should no longer ignore their hearing loss, says the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), which is raising awareness of the link between cardiovascular and hearing health in recognition of World Heart Day on September 29th.

A growing body of research shows that a person’s hearing health and cardiovascular health frequently correspond. With heart disease, artery walls thicken as a result of the accumulation of fatty materials such as cholesterol and triglycerides from a diet of meat, poultry, fish, eggs and dairy products.

To help people determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing healthcare professional, BHI is offering a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check at www.hearingcheck.org.

Some experts—like Charles E. Bishop, AuD, Assistant Professor in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences—find the evidence showing a link between cardiovascular and hearing health so compelling that they say the ear may be a window to the heart. Bishop believes the closer the collaboration between medical disciplines the better for the patient.

“Hearing health should not be assessed in a vacuum,” says Bishop. “There is simply too much evidence that hearing loss is related to cardiovascular disease and other health conditions. It’s time we maximized the information we have in order to benefit the individual’s overall wellbeing.”

Why the Heart-Hearing Connection?

Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system—a person’s heart, arteries, and veins—has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.

David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, has been studying the relationship between cardiovascular and hearing health for years. He offers up this response:

“The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”

In one study, published in The Laryngoscope, Dr. Friedland and fellow researchers found that audiogram pattern correlates strongly with cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease and may represent a screening test for those at risk. They even concluded that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events, and appropriate referrals should be considered.

Other evidence exists. In fact, the authors of a study published in the American Journal of Audiology concluded that the negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health on both the peripheral and central auditory system—and the potential positive influence of improved cardiovascular health on these same systems—have been found through a sizable body of research conducted over more than six decades.

Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, cause 17.3 million deaths each year. For more information about World Heart Day, cardiovascular health, and how people can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, visit www.world-heart-federation.org.

 

Comments are closed.