People tend to take matters of the heart very seriously, and they tend to brush off hearing loss as inconsequential. But the truth is, your heart and ears have a lot more in common than most people realize.
Decades of research point to a link between cardiovascular and hearing health. Professors at Wichita State University conducted an analysis of 84 years of work from scientists worldwide on the link between cardiovascular health and the ability to hear and understand what others are saying. Their research confirmed a direct link, and also suggested that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease. Our entire auditory system, especially the blood vessels of the inner ear, needs an oxygen-rich nutrient supply. If the supply is diminished due to cardiovascular health problems, then hearing can be affected.
Other research suggests that hearing loss may be an early sign of cardiovascular disease in seemingly healthy middle-aged people, and even found that hearing loss is common in people in their forties.
Professors at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee went so far as to conclude from their studies that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as “at risk” for cardiovascular events and appropriate referrals should be considered.
The heart-hearing link is best explained by Daena Wilds, AuD, with Bluegrass Hearing Clinic. “The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body. The most common abnormality we see is hypertension.”
Many experts find the evidence so compelling that they suggest that the ear may be a window to the heart and encourage collaboration among hearing care providers, cardiologists, and other healthcare professionals.
Here are five random things your heart and ears have in common:
Someone with heart disease is at a higher risk of depression, and someone with unaddressed hearing loss is at a higher risk of depression.
Exercise is good for your heart, and exercise is good for your ears. A higher level of physical activity is associated with a lower risk of hearing loss.
Smoking hurts your heart, and it is bad for your ears too. Both smokers and passive smokers are more likely to suffer hearing loss.
Your heart and ears love omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown regular consumption is associated with a lower risk of hearing loss in women.
Obesity puts people at risk for heart disease, and it affects hearing function.
Our entire auditory system, especially the blood vessels of the inner ear, needs an oxygen-rich nutrient supply. If the supply is diminished due to cardiovascular health problems, then hearing can be affected.