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The Surprising Way Hearing Loss and Heart Disease Are Connected
Posted by Echo Hearing Systems & Audiology on July 23, 2019
Heart health profoundly affects other systems of the body, including the auditory system. When cardiovascular disease limits circulation, the blood vessels in the inner ear can damage or destroy the tiny hairs that conduct sound, causing irreversible hearing loss. Keeping the heart in good shape can also help to preserve hearing.
Reviewing the Research
Clinical research published in a 2010 issue of the American Journal of Audiology reviewed studies on cardiac health and hearing dating back to 1950. The study authors found that heart disease raises the risk for problems affecting the central and peripheral auditory systems, especially among older adults.
Research conducted at Harvard University showed that those with heart disease are 54% more likely to have hearing loss than adults who do not have heart disease. The study authors also posit that because the hairs of the inner ear are so delicate, the auditory system may be the first part of the body affected by cardiovascular disease.
Exploring Hearing Loss Prevention
Additional research shows that exercising regularly can prevent hearing loss. The American Journal of Audiology published a June 2017 review called National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which studied 1,070 participants ages 30 and older. In the study, those who exercised regularly had low triglyceride levels, while high triglyceride levels were correlated with hearing loss. Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood, and high levels are also associated with an increased risk in heart disease.
A separate study done at Miami University evaluated the cardiovascular fitness of volunteers ages 22 to 78, then tested their hearing. Participants with better hearing also had better heart health, an effect that was amplified among seniors.
Taking Healthy Steps
The development of hearing loss could be associated with underlying cardiovascular issues that must be addressed. Harvard researchers note that hearing loss could be an early indicator of heart disease, making it a good idea for those with heart disease to have regular hearing screenings. This can help patients detect potential issues and learn whether or not they may benefit from hearing aids.
In addition to lowering the risk factors for heart disease, an exercise program can prevent cardiac problems as well as associated hearing loss. Steps to take include eating a nutritious diet low in fat and salt, reducing stress, quitting tobacco, and losing weight.
We welcome new patients at Echo Hearing Systems & Audiology, Inc. Contact us today to schedule a free hearing screening and consultation or call us at (614) 457-5848.