Highlighting the Connection between Heart Disease and Hearing Loss during American Heart Month

January 18, 2011


In the hearing health community, we’ve long recognized the link between heart disease and hearing health. So for the first time this year, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is joining with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the American Heart Association (AHA) to promote American Heart Month in February and to celebrate National Wear Red Day®—the first Friday in February when Americans nationwide wear red to show their support for women's heart disease awareness. This year, National Wear Red Day®is being observed on February 4, 2011.

It is extremely important for the hearing health community to encourage awareness of heart disease, it’s relation to healthy hearing, and actions people can take to protect both their heart and hearing health.

According to the AHA, heart disease is our nation’s No. 1 killer. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about every 25 seconds an American will have a coronary event. About one every minute will die from one. But there is good news: There are things people can do to protect the health of their heart and reduce their risk of heart disease progression.

Coronary artery disease, usually referred to as simply “heart disease,” is the most common form of cardiovascular disease. It is a disorder of the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to a heart attack. A heart attack happens when an artery becomes blocked, preventing oxygen and nutrients from getting to the heart. (Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, The Heart Truth™ National Awareness Campaign for Women about Heart Disease).


Overall blood flow affects the vascular pattern of the cochlea. Studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system—a person’s heart, arteries, and veins—have a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, trauma to the blood vessels of the cochlea can cause damage, negatively affecting a person’s capacity to hear.

In a study published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Audiology, Raymond H. Hull and Stacy R. Kerschen did a comprehensive review of research that has been conducted over the past 60 plus years and found 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 has been found through a sizable body of research.
BHI sees our participation in American Heart Month and National Wear Read Day® as an important contribution we can make to saving millions of lives in our country. Not only is it a way to raise awareness of the life-saving importance of protecting your heart—but it’s an opportunity to highlight the connection that heart health has on hearing health. Our efforts also will help inform people with heart disease that their hearing may be at risk and that it is important for them to include hearing checks as part of their routine medical exams.

There are several ways you can participate in American Heart Month and National Wear Red Day®. Listed below are some things you can do, and you can click here for additional ideas:

  • Organize a hearing screening in your community—perhaps at a local mall, library, community center, local business, or manufacturing plant—in recognition of American Heart Month and/or National Wear Red Day®.
  • Host a walk or run in your community.
  • Disseminate heart disease and hearing health information within your practice and local community, including materials developed by The Heart Truth®.
  • Issue a press release; the BHI has developed a press release template that hearing health professionals may use to promote their practice.
  • Send information through listservs.
  • Hang posters in prominent locations such as your office, library, local mall, or church.
  • Join the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement to spread awareness of the #1 killer in women – heart disease.
  • Find out who’s going red, and find an event near you!

Since 1963, Congress has required the president to proclaim February "American Heart Month" to urge Americans to join the battle against cardiovascular disease. The Heart Truth®—a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease sponsored by NHLBI and partner organizations—established National Wear Red Day® to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk of heart disease.

For more information please go to http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/events/wear-red.htm.

®National Wear Red Day is a registered trademark of HHS and AHA.