A Link between Hearing Loss & Cardiovascular Disease

A Link between Hearing Loss & Cardiovascular Disease

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D. Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Hearing Loss Related Disease

Bonnie L. Baehr, Au.D.

Significant research shows that there is a relationship between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss. According to the CDC, an estimated 92 million people in the U.S. have at least one type of cardiovascular disease. This is ⅓ of the entire population, highlighting how pervasive cardiovascular conditions are. Cardiovascular disease can impact health in a myriad of ways including contributing to the development of hearing loss. 

Link Between Hearing Loss & Cardiovascular Disease

There is substantial evidence that shows a correlation between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss. This includes a study conducted by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine. Published in JAMA Otolaryngology, this study involved evaluating the hearing and cardiovascular health of 433 people, ages 80 and older. Researchers found that compared to people with no cardiovascular issues, people with at least one cardiovascular condition: 

  • Averaged additional hearing loss of nearly 5.5 decibels. 
  • Experienced low-frequency pure tone hearing loss of 1.90 decibels per year (compared to 1.1 in those without cardiovascular disease). 
  • Experience worsened word recognition, equivalent to an extra three years of age-related decline.  

Researchers also found that cardiovascular disease had the highest association with hearing loss of any of the conditions they studied. This highlights a significant relationship between hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. These findings support extensive studies that identify cardiovascular disease as a risk factor for hearing loss. 

Cardiovascular Health & Hearing Health

Cardiovascular disease (or heart disease), includes a group of conditions that are characterized by a narrowing or blocking of blood vessels. Causes of cardiovascular disease include damaged heart muscles, valves, and heart infection. The restriction of blood vessels  is caused by an accumulation of plaque in the arteries which obstruct blood flow.Additional factors that contribute to heart disease include hypertension and high cholesterol levels. 

This buildup of plaque in the arteries that this produces can lead to significant health risks like heart attacks, strokes, chest pain, and shortness of breath. The restriction of blood flow can also contribute to hearing loss, a medical condition that reduces one’s capacity to hear and process sound. The auditory system – the sensory system that manages hearing – consists of the ears and brain working together to absorb and process speech as well as sound. This includes sensory cells, bones in the middle ear, and auditory pathways that carry sound signals to the brain. Restricted blood flow can disrupt the hearing process by damaging these essential components of the auditory system. This prevents sound from being absorbed or carried to the brain which produces hearing loss. 

Tips to Protect Hearing Health

There are several ways you can protect your hearing health. This is especially important if you have or experience increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A few tips you can practice include:  

  • Improve cardiovascular health: adjusting lifestyle factors can go a long way toward preventing cardiovascular disease. There are several ways you can do this including: 
  • Eat a healthy diet: eating healthy has countless benefits like boosting the immune system and supporting healthy blood flow. Diets that emphasize plant based foods like fruits and vegetables, reduced consumption of processed foods, increased intake of whole grains etc. are incredibly beneficial to your overall health. 
  • Exercise regularly: engagement in mild forms of consistent exercise is also great for cardiovascular health. You can do this by taking a walk everyday or finding physical activities that you enjoy doing like swimming. 
  • Eliminate smoking: smoking contributes to high blood pressure. Eliminating smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. You can start by progressively reducing the amount you smoke each day. 
  • Reduce stress: managing stress is another useful strategy to support your health .You can do this by engaging in breathing and calming activities like yoga or simple stretches. This lowers blood pressure which helps reduce the risk of heart disease as well. 
  • Have hearing tested: incorporating hearing tests into yearly health check-ups is a great way to monitor your hearing health. Hearing tests involve a noninvasive process that measures your hearing capacity in both ears. Having your hearing tested regularly allows you to track your hearing health and identify any changes you may experience early. Addressing symptoms early can significantly protect your hearing health and wellness. 

Contact us to learn more about how you can prioritize your hearing health. Scheduling an appointment for a hearing consultation is a great first step!