Cardiovascular diseases, includingheart disease and stroke, cause 17.3 million deaths each year. A growing body of research shows that a person’s hearing health and cardiovascular health frequently correspond and may provide an “early warning system.”
Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system — a person’s heart, arteries and veins — has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss. David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, has been studying the relationship between cardiovascular and hearing health for years. “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.”
Dr. Friedland and fellow researchers found that audiogram patterns correlate strongly with cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease and may represent a screening test for those at risk. They concluded that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events and appropriate referrals should be considered.
Experts like Charles E. Bishop, AuD, Assistant Professor, University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences, 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.
“There is simply too much evidence that hearing loss is related to cardiovascular disease and other health conditions,” says Bishop. “It’s time we maximized the information we have in order to benefit the individual’s overall well-being.”
Because the jury is still out on exactly why there is a connection and which comes first, it behooves those age 40 and older to get their hearing tested as a routine part of their medical care. In addition to cardiovascular health, research has associated hearing loss with numerous other physical, mental and emotional health conditions. As a result, those who address their hearing loss often experience better quality of life.
Source: Better Hearing Institute