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A Link Between Hearing Loss and Cardiovascular Disease


Terri Ellert, HIS

Terri has been in practice as a Board-Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist for the past 11 years and is a co-founder of the Hearing Centers of Arizona.
Terri Ellert, HIS

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A Link Between Hearing Loss and Cardiovascular Disease

Untreated hearing loss has already been linked with a number of other negative health outcomes, including cognitive function and mental illness. In these cases, doctors and researchers suggest that hearing loss may have a causal effect on these conditions. However, recent research has unearthed another surprising link between hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. In this case, the causal effect runs in the other direction. These studies demonstrate that cardiovascular disease can cause hearing loss, pointing backward to blood flow as the origin of a number of other health problems in a chain reaction.

Hearts and Hearing

In order to understand this link, researchers began with understanding how heart, vascular, and blood systems are necessary for healthy hearing. In order for the cochlea of the ear to properly function in deciphering sound, they require oxygen and other nutrients delivered through the cardiovascular system. A 2010 study in the American Journal of Audiology discovered that indeed healthy blood flow was necessary for healthy hearing. The review by Raymond H. Hull and Stacy R. Kerschen found that poor cardiovascular functioning was related to hearing loss both in the peripheral and central auditory systems.

Inner Ear Sensitivity

This link with hearing loss is especially important as an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease and even the risk of a heart attack. The sensitive functioning of the inner ear is acutely responsive to irregularities in blood flow, suffering damage from even a small lack of oxygen. When hearing is lost due to inadequate cardiovascular support, it is one of the earliest warning signs of oncoming heart disease. A 2013 campaign by the Better Hearing Institute emphasized this link, calling for people to get hearing tests as an aspect of World Heart Day. If hearing loss was detected, they suggested that patients may also want to as their doctor for a cardiovascular health exam.

Building a Healthy Heart for Healthy Hearing

With this link in mind, heart healthy behaviors can have ripple effects on your hearing, as well. Diet is one of the first culprits leading to heart disease. Particularly, trans fats have been linked with heart disease. While healthy fats are necessary for proper nutrition, trans fats tend to clog the arteries and veins, leading to blockage between the heart and other organs. Sedentary lifestyles are also to blame. The heart is a muscle, and like any other, it requires exercise for strength. Though weightlifting, stretching, and yoga are excellent ways to tone the muscles of your body, raising your heart rate for at least 20 minutes is necessary to increase the strength and capacity of the heart. Incorporate walking, jogging, swimming, or aerobics into your exercise routine to keep your heart healthy along with these other muscles. Another cause of heart disease is smoking. Not only if you are a smoker yourself, prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease. Take care of both your lungs and your heart by starting down the road to smoking cessation if you are currently a smoker. Finally, dental hygiene has been discovered in a surprising link with heart health, as well. Bacteria that appear in the mouth in the development of gum disease can also spread to the bloodstream, creating inflammation in the blood vessels and leading to a greater risk of heart disease or stroke.

The Whole-Body Approach to Auditory Health

As you can see, the human body is an interconnected system of organs, linked not only by blood and nerves but also through the direction of the brain. Too often we tend to neglect the links between mental and physical health. Just as we have seen that poor dental hygiene can cause cardiovascular problems, which can subsequently lead to hearing loss, the mind is also a powerful connecting force between all of these parts of the body. Keeping your mind peaceful is not only beneficial for your mood and relationships. A positive mental attitude has wide-reaching effects throughout the body, and the links continue to be demonstrated in scientific research. Thinking of your mind and body as a vast interconnection can help you take the best care of yourself from your heart to your hearing and to a calm and sharp mind, as well.

Visit Us at Hearing Centers of Arizona

Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? It is important to seek treatment for hearing loss as soon as possible. To schedule a hearing exam and consultation, contact us at Hearing Centers of Arizona today.

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