Scores of studies over the decades have shown a direct and unarguable relationship between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss. Hearing loss occurs 54% more often in people with heart disease. But it takes more than the ears to hear. Sure, the ears pick up the sound and, to do so accurately, they must be healthy, but it is the brain that interprets those sounds into something meaningful.
The part of the brain that does the coding and interpretation is called the central auditory system and is made up of many little areas that each have their own role to play. In order to accurately understand speech, we not only need to be able to hear the speech, but we need to be able to interpret each element of the speech sound with speed and accuracy.
Because every part of your brain is dependent on oxygen and nutrient rich blood flow, it makes sense that any disease that affects the heart’s ability to provide this life force, would also have a profound negative impact on your ability to hear, understand, process and code sounds and speech.
What can you do?
First, be sure to let your audiologist know if you have high blood pressure, heart disease of any sort, diabetes, any form of thrombosis, or hypertensive retinopathy. You also need to alert her or him at the first sign of a sudden change in hearing or ringing in your ears, particularly if you can hear your own heartbeat.
What else can you do?
Get that heart healthy! If you have hearing loss due to genetics, noise exposure, or any of the other myriad causes, you will be well served to avoid, to the extent possible, any further damage to the auditory system caused by heart disease.
Finally, get your heart and hearing checked every year and keep your audiologist informed.