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A Link between Hearing Loss & Cardiovascular Disease

In Hearing Health by Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Dr. Jason Leyendecker
Latest posts by Dr. Jason Leyendecker (see all)

We really can’t get by without a healthy heart. It is at the center of it all, making sure oxygenated blood is delivered to every part of our body.  It is no wonder that cardiovascular disease is one of the most common killers in the United States. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports that “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. One person dies every 33 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.” As of 2019, an estimated 659,000 people in the US die from heart disease annually— responsible for around 1 in every 4 deaths! 

For a healthy and long life, heart health is an essential cornerstone of health. It’s amazing where the effects of heart issues can reach. Not only does a healthy beating heart support your muscles, joints, organs and brain, but also helps you to maintain healthier and better hearing for years to come.

Hearing Loss as We Age

Hearing loss can occur at any time in our life due to exposure to loud sounds, impact to the head, certain medications, or even frequent ear infections. However, the risk of hearing loss increases as we age. For those of us 60 and older, one in four will have some degree of hearing loss. However, by the time we reach 65, this number jumps to one in three. For those of us 75 years and older, half of us will have developed age-related hearing loss. Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis occurs due to changes in the inner ear as we age, however it is not a certain part of aging. There are many lifestyle changes we can make throughout life which can help maintain healthier hearing for years to come. While you can’t go back and reverse the time you went to that loud concert in your 20’s, you can help to protect your hearing now, by supporting heart health.

Understanding Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease is a broad term for health issues concerning the heart or blood vessels. Most often it is connected to a build-up of fatty deposits within the arteries. This can significantly increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots. Your risk for heart disease increases with age, especially past the age of 65. In fact, nearly 20% of those who die of heart disease are under the age of 65. We don’t completely understand what causes cardiovascular disease, however there are many factors which have been isolated which increase your risk. This includes:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of CVD

The Connection Between Hearing Loss and Heart Disease

Hearing loss is more serious than many first suspect. What starts with minor misunderstandings in everyday conversations, can build up over years into strains on your most beloved relationships, chronic depression, social isolation, cognitive decline, and a higher risk of falls or accidents which can be harder to recover from as we age. It is important to do what we can to protect our hearing and the strength of our heart. 

Surprisingly, the two are more connected than many would suspect. We collect sound with our ears, but at the end of the process, sound must be delivered to our brain. We achieve this using tiny hairlike cells called stereocilia. These hairlike cells rely on a healthy supply of oxygenated blood to maintain health. When someone lives with cardiovascular disease, the cells across the entire body may not always receive the consistent supply of blood they rely on, and the inner ears are no exception. As cardiovascular disease develops, the risk of damage to the inner ear increases. This means that sounds or medications which would normally not damage the ears may cause lasting hearing damage, due to a strain on cell health. To better understand the connection between an increased risk of hearing damage and heart disease, a Harvard University cross-referenced extensive health data banks, finding that hearing loss was 54 percent more common in those who also had cardiovascular disease!

Take Action Today!

If you have recently been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, then we recommend considering a hearing exam as part of your preventative care. We can help you find a solution to help you hear the people in your life, keeping you active and healthy for years to come. The first step is easy! Contact us today to schedule a hearing exam!