The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is raising awareness of the connection between cardiovascular and hearing health, and is urging people with cardiovascular disease to get their hearing checked. Likewise, BHI urges people with hearing loss to pay close attention to their cardiovascular health. A growing body of research indicates that a person’s hearing health and cardiovascular health frequently correspond. BHI’s efforts are in recognition of World Heart Day, September 29.
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.
According to BHI, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers need to take age-related hearing loss seriously. Research not only shows that untreated hearing loss has adverse effects on quality of life, earnings, and a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, but increasingly, studies show that hearing loss is affiliated with a number of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease.
The Heart-Hearing Connection
The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow. 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.
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—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.
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. According to Friedland: “The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that any abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”
In their 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.
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.
More About Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids
Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk of personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health. But the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. Three out of four hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life due to wearing hearing aids. And studies show that when people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they improve their job performance, increase their earning potential, enhance their communication skills, improve their professional and interpersonal relationships, and stave off depression.
Founded in 1973, BHI conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment. For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org. To take the BHI Quick Hearing Check, visit at www.hearingcheck.org. To participate in the discussion forum, visit www.betterhearing.org, click on “Discussion Forum,” and go to “Welcome!” to register.