Audiology neuroscience researcher Raymond Hull, Ph.D., of Wichita State University, analyzed the work of scientists spanning 84 years and 70 different research studies and found that cardiovascular health affects the ability to hear. Dr. Hull reports that the connection between cardiovascular health and hearing is a logical one because both the inner ear and the brain depend on healthy blood flow. Cardiovascular disease can inhibit the blood and nutrient supply to the inner ear. While there are many possible causes of hearing loss, cardiovascular disease appears to exaggerate the impact of those causes and intensify the degree of hearing decline, says Dr. Hull. (1)
An early sign of cardiovascular disease?
There are many risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease including diet, exercise, history of smoking, family history, age, and other health conditions, i.e., diabetes. Since it is always better to be aware of a health issue sooner rather than later research into identifying early indicators of disease are extremely important. Intervention measures applied early enough can often lead to significant improvements in health outcomes. The question posed by the researchers below is, can we find a link between hearing health and the health of the cardiovascular system?
The findings of a study by Dr. Friedland concluded that there is a significant relationship between cardiovascular status and audiometric pattern. (2) Audiogram pattern correlates strongly with cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease and may represent a screening test for those at risk. Patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events, and appropriate referrals should be considered. (2)
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison found that the risk of developing hearing impairment over a five year follow-up period in a predominantly middle-aged group of participants was increased about 15% in the presence of atherosclerosis. This relationship was independent of other hearing impairment risk factors. These findings, suggest an important role for vascular health in auditory functioning. (3)
The research into a link between hearing levels and cardiovascular health is clearly ongoing. However, the findings above highlight the importance of keeping track of your hearing to possibly provide information into your cardiovascular health as well.
(1) Analysis of Research Confirms Cardiovascular Health Affects Hearing. The Hearing Review, Published on June 1, 2015
(2) Friedland, D. R., Cederberg, C. and Tarima, S. (2009), Audiometric pattern as a predictor of cardiovascular status: Development of a model for assessment of risk. The Laryngoscope, 119: 473-486. doi:10.1002/lary.20130
(3) Fischer, M.E., et al. Atherosclerosis. 2015 Feb; 238(2): 344–349. Published online 2014 Dec 20. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2014.12.031