Wednesday Health Watch: High Blood Pressure and Hearing Loss

There are many reasons hypertension (high blood pressure) should be taken seriously. It is the leading cause of strokes. If left untreated, it leads to cardiovascular, or heart, disease. It also increases your risk of kidney damage, vision loss, memory loss, fluid in the lungs, and ,yes, hearing loss. We want to focus on that last correlation.

What Is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of the force of blood against your arteries and veins. The top number (systolic) notes the pressure when your heart pushes blood out, and the bottom number (diastolic) notes the pressure when your heart rests between beats and is not pumping any blood. Your blood pressure is considered high when the upper number (systolic) is higher than 120 and the lower number (diastolic) higher than 80.

Why Is Hypertension Bad?

Healthy arteries are made of muscle and a semi-flexible tissue that stretches like elastic when the heart pumps blood through them. When your blood pressure is high, it means the blood is pushing through your arteries very fast. To accommodate, your arteries stretch to allow maximum blood flow. Over time, if the force of the blood flow is often high, that stretchy tissue is damaged. This leads to weakened blood vessels, making them more prone to rupture and cause strokes and aneurysms. It also leads to an increased risk of blood clots; plaque build-up, which causes heart attacks; and tissue and organ damage. 

High Blood Pressure and Hearing Los

Blood vessels are present throughout your body, including your ears. When your blood pressure is high and these blood vessels are weakened or damaged, your hearing could be impaired. 

In 2015, Dr. Stacy Kerschen and Raymond Hull, PhD, professor of communication sciences and disorders in audiology and neurosciences at Wichita State University, analyzed 84 years of work from scientists worldwide on the connection between cardiovascular health and the ability to hear. Their work confirmed a direct link.

According to Hull, “Our entire auditory system, especially the blood vessels of the inner ear, needs an oxygen-rich nutrient supply. If it doesn't get it due to cardiovascular health problems, then hearing can be affected."  The full article detailing results of this study can be found here

Because hearing loss can have a great impact on a person's quality of life, those with high blood pressure should get their hearing checked by a trained audiologist. On the other hand, if you have hearing loss, make sure you are checking your blood pressure on a regular basis.