You’ve heard that many things affect your hearing health. From smoking to diet and exercise, the body is a lot more interconnected than we often think. But did you know that hearing loss has even been linked to cardiovascular disease? A new study shows that those with heart trouble often have higher rates of hearing loss.
Studying the Heart
Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, affects the functioning of the heart, the vital organ that keeps blood pumping through our bodies and keeps us alive. Heart disease is commonly a problem with the arteries, as plaque builds up along artery walls, restricting blood flow. As blood flow is affected, blood clots become a threat, leading to a heart attack or stroke.
A recent study at the Yale School of Medicine looked for links between heart conditions and hearing loss. They examined 433 adults over the age of 80, since this population often shows rapid declines in both hearing and heart health. They found that in this age group, hearing loss and heart trouble seem to go hand in hand. Kapil Wattamwar, lead author of the study, notes that this relationship appears to go both ways. Treating cardiovascular disease can often slow hearing loss, and hearing loss can be an indication of heart trouble.
Looking closely at the data, Wattamwar discovered that those with cardiovascular disease averaged a greater level of hearing loss than those with healthy hearts and experienced more rapid hearing loss. In fact, those with heart conditions had the same level of hearing loss associated with three extra years of normal age-related hearing loss! That means that an 85-year-old with cardiovascular disease had the same level of hearing loss or worse as an 88-year-old with no preexisting heart conditions.
How Does the Heart Affect Hearing?
Linking heart disease and hearing loss might seem like a stretch to most of us, but researchers at the Yale School of Medicine weren’t so surprised. Cardiovascular disease affects blood flow, so researchers theorize that heart disease damages hearing by compromising the amount of blood that reaches the ear. Since the delicate cells in the ear require a constant supply of fresh oxygen to stay healthy, restricting the blood flow can actually suffocate the cells of the inner ear, leading to damage and death of these cells, and causing permanent hearing loss.
Untreated Hearing Loss
If you’ve experienced hearing loss, it’s time to take action. Living with untreated hearing loss is no walk in the park, and along with being an indicator of possible heart disease, it profoundly affects your quality of life. Hearing loss is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and a host of other negative health outcomes.
You know that following conversations can be tough with hearing loss, and you’ve already started to experience how hearing loss can affect your relationships. Have you been asking friends and family to repeat themselves all the time? Do you sometimes choose to smile and nod rather than admit that you have no idea what’s been said? Are you afraid of answering inappropriately, or find yourself easily frustrated in social situations? Living with untreated hearing loss quickly leads to a breakdown in friendships and is closely linked to both social isolation and depression. Hearing loss is also linked to poor job performance and rapid cognitive decline.
My Hearing Centers
If you’ve experienced any unusual feelings in your chest, or think you might have cardiovascular disease, visit your family physician! Then, come see us at My Hearing Centers to discuss your hearing. Whatever the cause of your hearing loss, its important to do the right thing for your hearing health as well as your overall health and treat your hearing loss appropriately. We have a wide selection of hearing devices from some of the world’s most respected hearing aid manufacturers, so you’ll be sure to find a hearing aid that fits your hearing needs, budget, and lifestyle. Tired of living with hearing loss? You don’t have to! Our hearing aids will help you hear in in every situation, whether in the backyard with your grandkids, around the dinner table, watching TV, or out with your friends for Saturday night drinks. Call today to book an appointment and start your journey to clear hearing.