A Link between Hearing Loss & Cardiovascular Disease

A Link between Hearing Loss & Cardiovascular Disease

In Hearing Loss by Jennifer Douberly, Au.D.

Are you at risk of heart disease? According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in all genders, killing nearly 610,000 people every year in the United States. Though Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is most common in those over 50, affecting men more often, earlier than women, it is most common in those 50 years and older. CVD is one of the largest risks for premature mortality, causing Heart failure, heart attack, stroke, brain aneurysm and peripheral artery disease! Aside from these devastating risks to your health comes hearing loss as well. You may not think your hearing health is important when compared to heart attack or stroke, but your entire body’s health is deeply interconnected.

CVD and the Body

The majority of heart disease complications are linked to blood vessel damage from high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or stiffened, narrowed arteries (arteriosclerosis) resulting from high levels of cholesterol. When these problems go unaddressed and progress, they can cause blockages, spasms or ruptures of both major or minor vessels. Ultimately this increases the risk of heart attack, stroke or even heart failure.

“Cardiovascular disease robs the life of about one American every minute, and heart disease is the #1 killer of women,” Sergei Kochkin, PhD, hearing industry market researcher and former Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute, said. “Yet, an alarming number of Americans don’t understand how serious the threat of heart disease is to them personally, or how closely intertwined it is with other health conditions, such as hearing health. We urge women and men alike to know their risks and to take action today to protect their heart and hearing health.”

Understanding the Connection Between CVD and a Life with Hearing Loss

When we struggle to hear it is often clear how it affects your ability to communicate. Even so, it’s rare that any thought is put towards how this affects your general health. For one thing, communication is the cornerstone of all our most important relationships between friends, co-workers, employers and our loved ones at home. As the relationships in your life are put under constant strain it can quickly lead to chronic depressive symptoms and loneliness. Depression is more than just sad feelings but can lead to less activity, poor eating habits and poor sleep. All these stress responses can lead to damage which can contribute to cardiovascular disease. 

The CDC reports that the best way to support heart health and avoid CVC is to “Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Eating lots of foods high in saturated fat and trans fat may contribute to heart disease. Eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol can help prevent high cholesterol.”

Blood Supply and Hearing Loss

Aside from lifestyle choices which can further the risk of CVD, hearing health, directly is connected to blood health. CVD occurs when blockages in arteries create build ups which narrows the arteries, making it harder for blood to flow through. If a blood clot forms, it can block the blood flow. Aside from risks of stroke and heart attack, your ears also rely on a healthy supply of oxygenated blood in order to support the fragile cells of the inner ear. While we collect sound with our ears it’s up to the cells of our inner ear to send those signals to our brain. When these cells become damaged, our hearing suffers.

‘Hearing loss is related to cardiovascular disease’

Charles E. Bishop, AuD, Assistant Professor in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences, hopes to motivate people in the US to take cardiovascular disease seriously, equally for it’s life-threatening effects and impact on all areas of your life and health. The US diet is very centered on fried foods, fatty meats and sugary foods which puts hearing at risk.

“Hearing health should not be assessed in a vacuum,” said Bishop. “There is simply too much evidence that hearing loss is related to cardiovascular disease and other health conditions. It’s time we maximized the information we have in order to benefit the individual’s overall well-being.”

Treating Hearing Loss

If you suspect you have hearing loss treating it may give you the motivation and energy to address CVD head on! Schedule a hearing exam today!