February is Hearth Health Month, designated as such in 1964 to help raise awareness about cardiovascular disease and save lives. The CDC estimates that 610,000 people die of heart disease in the US every year, making it the cause of one in every four deaths.
Cardiovascular disease may be caused by a number of medical issues affecting either the structure of the vessels of the heart or your heart’s muscles, valves or rhythm.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, yet an alarming number of Americans don’t understand how serious (and often preventable) a condition it is.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will not only add years to your lifespan, but will reduce your odds of developing heart disease. Your Tucson doctor recommends taking preventative measures such as eating healthier, losing weight, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
The Connection Between Heart Health and Hearing Loss
If you don’t watch what you eat and fail to exercise regularly, poor cardiovascular health is only one risk you’ll face. New evidence shows a link between poor heart health and hearing loss.
The reason for this surprising correlation? The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow, so obstructions in the arteries and veins – symptoms of heart disease – can impact the peripheral and central auditory systems, leading to hearing impairment. Conversely, when the heart is healthy and the flow of blood is unimpeded, hearing problems are less common.
The cochlea, a fluid-filled tube in the inner ear that translates sound into nerve impulses, fails to function properly when damaged or subjected to decreased blood flow.
A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Audiology reviewed research conducted over the last 60 years on cardiovascular health and its influence on hearing health. The findings confirm that poor heart health affects both the peripheral and central auditory system, especially in older adults. A study of 1,600 patients with a history of cardiovascular disease showed they were 54 percent more likely to experience impaired cochlear function, further evidence of how essential blood flow is to good hearing.
Importance of Exercise
While sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, you may be able to prevent it by adopting a cardiovascular focused exercise regime.
Researchers at Miami University discovered a positive relationship between hearing acuity and cardiovascular exercise. They followed 102 non-smoking participants ranging in age from 10 to 78 and measured their hearing before and after riding a stationary bicycle. The researchers found that those with high cardiovascular fitness levels had better hearing, especially those over the age of 50.
A larger study was published in 2017 in the American Journal of Audiology. Researchers analyzed data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); in total they looked at 1,070 participants, 30 years of age and older. They found that those who were more physically active had lower triglyceride levels. High triglyceride levels are associated with hearing loss.
So what do you do with this information? Your Tucson audiologist recommends their patients with hearing loss undergo cardiovascular screening to determine whether there is an increased health risk.
And if you have already been diagnosed with heart disease? You should consider a hearing evaluation by your Tucson audiologist.
To learn more, contact your Tucson audiologist today.