Cardiovascular Disease

Hearing Loss and Cardiovascular Disease

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February is American Heart Month and a good time to discuss the link between hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. (Hint: It’s all about the blood flow.)

Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, refers to a number of conditions that cause narrowed or blocked blood vessels and contribute to heart attacks, chest pain, or stroke. Our auditory system depends on an oxygen-rich blood flow. The tiny hair cells in the inner ear responsible for conducting sound to the brain can be damaged if sufficient oxygen through the blood is unavailable due to the narrowed or blocked blood vessels. This cell damage is what causes permanent hearing loss.

Maintaining a healthy heart can reduce your risk or help prevent further hearing loss. Many of the things you can do to take care of your heart will also help protect your hearing:

  • Avoid smoking: Smoking is known to be harmful to your heart and your inner ears. Read more about the relationship between smoking and hearing health.

  • Exercise: Exercise helps increase blood flow (among many other benefits)! Exercising for 20-30 minutes per day, four or five days a week, can contribute to a healthy heart and healthy hearing.

  • Nutrition: A heart-healthy diet can help improve your hearing and prevent further hearing loss. Click here to read more about foods to consume and avoid.

Research from Harvard University found that hearing loss occurs 54 percent more often in people with heart disease, compared to the general population. Researchers also hypothesize that low frequency hearing loss - especially in people who are middle-aged or younger - could be an indicator of the presence or potential development of cardiovascular disease. 

If you already have hearing loss, it’s important to speak to your healthcare professional about whether it might indicate heart disease, as well. If you suspect you have hearing loss, its connection to your heart health should be reason enough to get your hearing tested.

If you or someone you know are concerned about your hearing, feel free to contact us or take our hearing questionnaire

What Can Our Hearing Tell About Our Hearts?

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February is American Heart Month, and we'd like to take a moment to discuss the link between cardiovascular health and hearing health. As it turns out, our ears may actually be listening to our hearts.

Research suggests hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease, especially in seemingly healthy middle-aged people. An analysis of 84 years of work from scientists worldwide confirmed a direct link between cardiovascular health and the ability to hear. This occurs because our auditory system is dependent on an oxygen-rich blood flow, which can be restricted if cardiovascular health issues are present.

David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, suggests that patients with low-frequency hearing loss, particularly those who are middle-aged, should seek appropriate cardiology referrals. He states, “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.”

The link between hearing health and cardiovascular health is strong. As we know, hearing loss is often accompanied by other health conditions, so this particular link is no surprise. Are ears the windows to our overall health? What do you think?

The full article referenced above can be found on the Better Hearing Institute's website by clicking here

For more information about American Heart Month and cardiovascular health, visit the American Heart Association's website

If you or someone you know are concerned about your hearing, feel free to contact us or take our hearing questionnaire

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.