Keeping track of your hearing by getting a hearing test may help you monitor your cardiovascular health, says the Better Hearing Institute (BHI), which is raising awareness of the link between cardiovascular and hearing health in recognition of American Heart Month in February and National Wear Red Day® on February 6.
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.BetterHearing.org.
New research out of the University of Wisconsin in Madison has reconfirmed the link between hearing and cardiovascular health, suggesting that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease in seemingly healthy middle-aged people. The study also showed that hearing loss is common in people in their forties. (http://ow.ly/HOOQw; http://ow.ly/HRnt4)
This research is in line with the earlier findings of David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, who explains the cardiovascular-hearing health link:
“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 Dr. Friedland’s own 2009 study, published in The Laryngoscope, he 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. (http://ow.ly/HOWDY)
About this latest research out of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Dr. Friedland says, “This study provides a potential mechanism by which blood flow to the ear may be compromised, namely atherosclerosis and plaque formation. It also shows that hearing loss in middle age is more common than many people realize.”
Research not only shows that hearing loss is affiliated with cardiovascular disease, but it’s linked to other chronic illnesses as well, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, moderate chronic kidney disease, and depression. And when left untreated, hearing loss adversely affects quality of life, earnings, and physical and emotional well-being.
Luckily, the overwhelming majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, which have advanced dramatically in recent years and are designed to help people keep up with youthful, active lifestyles. When people with even mild hearing loss use today’s modern hearing aids, they often improve their job performance; enhance their communication skills; increase their earnings potential; improve their professional and interpersonal relationships; stave off depression; gain an enhanced sense of control over their lives; and better their quality of life.
Five Heart-Healthy Reasons to Get a Hearing Test
- Six decades of research points to heart-hearing health link. A comparative review of more than 60 years of research found a correlation between cardiovascular and hearing health. Specifically, the study authors 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 systems—have been found through a sizable body of research. (http://ow.ly/BqqPy)
- The ear may be a window to the heart. Some experts find the evidence showing a link between cardiovascular and hearing health so compelling that they say the ear may be a window to the heart. They encourage collaboration between hearing care providers, cardiologists, and other healthcare professionals. Some even call on hearing care professionals to include cardiovascular health in patient case history and to measure their patients’ blood pressure. (http://ow.ly/Bp7oV; http://ow.ly/BqYsK; http://ow.ly/BqZdt)
- The same lifestyle behaviors that affect the heart impact hearing. More evidence of the interconnectedness between cardiovascular and hearing health is found in three studies on modifiable behaviors: One found that a higher level of physical activity is associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women. Another revealed that smokers and passive smokers are more likely to suffer hearing loss. And a third found that regular fish consumption and higher intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women. Coincidence? Or does it all come back to blood flow to the inner ear? Research is ongoing. (http://ow.ly/BqrlJ; http://ow.ly/Bqsz0; http://ow.ly/BqtO3)
- Addressing hearing loss improves quality of life, helps reduce stress. Eight out of 10 hearing aid users say they’re satisfied with the changes that have occurred in their lives due to their hearing aids. Many say they see improvements in their life overall, in interpersonal relationships, and that they experience reduced anger and frustration, and enhanced emotional stability. (http://ow.ly/AZ2D7)
- Today’s hearing aids are better than ever and virtually invisible. State-of-the-art, sleek, sophisticated, and low profile, today’s hearing aids combine high-performance technology and style with durability and ease-of-use. They’re a high-tech tool to help people maintain youthful lifestyles and stay socially, physically, and cognitively active. The options are so varied there’s an attractive solution for just about anyone.
For more information on hearing loss and to take the BHI Hearing Check, visit www.BetterHearing.org. Follow BHI on Twitter @better_hearing, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/betterhearinginstitute.