« Health & Fitness

Hearing and Your Heart

by Susan Fenrich

In previous posts we have called attention to problems associated with hearing loss such as the onset of feelings of isolation, depression and dementia. Recent medical research has discovered a correlation between cardiovascular systems and hearing health.

In an article dated September 19, 2013 The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) of Washington D.C. says the following:

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 persons hearing health and cardiovascular health frequently correspond. And because the jury is still out on exactly why there is a connection and which comes first, it behooves those 40 and older to get their hearing tested as a routine part of their medical care. The vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, which have been shown to improve quality of life.

How are hearing loss and heart disease connected? The inner ear is one of the most sensitive parts of the body and very dependent upon proper blood flow to operate efficiently. In the same article BHI cites the following:

Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular systema persons heart, arteries, and veinshas 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.

There is more evidence to support the conclusion. The BHI goes on to say,

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 system shave been found through a sizable body of research conducted over more than six decades.

So in other words a healthy heart can help maintain healthy hearing. If you have a hearing loss it could be a sign of an unhealthy heart so get your hearing tested today .

By Susan L. Fenrich, BC-HIS, Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist, Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences

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