Hearing loss can be caused by heart disease. The connection between hearing loss and heart disease was made decades ago, but scientists and researchers were unsure of the connection. In recent years, it has become clear that the issue lies within the very fine circulation in the inner ear and the disruptions that are caused by poor heart function.
Charles E. Bishop, Au.D., Assistant Professor in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences, says, “What we can say with confidence is that states of disease, whether cardiovascular or cardio-metabolic in nature, which result from patterns of behavior generally linked to poor nutrition, lack of exercise, stress, and smoking, are clearly related to loss of hearing acuity in older adults. Unfortunately, none of the above risk factors are easily modified. Additionally, there is no evidence that reversing cardiovascular risk or disease can reverse the damage that has already been done to the ear.”
Dr. Bishop and many audiologists agree that there should be a close collaboration between audiology and cardiology because they share a common cause — keeping their patients healthy. Although there is no indication that hearing loss caused by heart disease can be reversed once the disease has been treated (with hypertension drugs, diet modifications, smoking cessation, etc.), there are many treatment options for hearing loss, and, with the help of an audiologist, hearing can be monitored for further damage and your cardiologist can be alerted.
Be sure to keep your audiologist informed of any changes in health, however minor they might seem. Understanding your medical history and current health status will help us devise a treatment and monitoring plan that will benefit you and, to the extent possible, preserve your hearing. Of course, maintain a healthy weight, exercise, don’t smoke, and stay active and purposeful. Take your hearing seriously and, if you’re 40 or older, get tested every two years. Include your audiologist in your health care team in order to maximize communications.
A purposeful, heart-healthy life packed with family, friends, conversations, and meaning is the key to overall health and longevity.