Healthy Hearing and Heart Disease

Healthy Hearing and Heart DiseaseFebruary is American Heart Month - a time to raise awareness about the importance of heart health and the impact it can have on our bodies. According to the American Heart Association, more than 90 million American adults suffer from cardiovascular disease, which is also a leading cause of death in the United States. But, did you know there is a link between heart health and hearing health?

A study published in the American Journal of Audiology looked at research on heart disease and its impact on hearing health. Researchers found hearing loss was more common among older adults with heart disease than those without.

Good hearing relies on good circulation and blood flow, which might be one reason for this connection. The sensitive hair cells in the inner ear can be damaged when poor circulation decreases the amount of oxygen that reaches these hair cells.

In addition, contributing factors to heart disease such as high blood pressure can also play a role in hearing health. Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the vessel walls. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is caused when that pressure is higher than normal, causing damage to the blood vessels in the rest of the body, including those in the inner ear.  Poor circulation to the blood vessels in the inner ear can lead to hearing loss.

Given the connection, it’s recommended that those who suffer from heart disease or any of its risk factors receive a hearing evaluation annually. If you notice any changes in your hearing, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician who can refer you to an audiologist. To request an appointment with an expert audiologist at the Pennsylvania Ear Institute, please call 215.780.3180.