The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed that the leading cause of death is heart disease. It is responsible for the deaths of approximately 610,000 people every year in the U.S. Heart disease is also associated with hearing loss. Maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system is healthy for hearing health.
The majority of heart diseases are related to damaged blood vessels, caused by high blood pressure (hypertension) and/or tight, narrow arteries (arteriosclerosis) due to high cholesterol. These can lead to obstructions, spasms, or even ruptures in major or minor vessels, which can cause chest pains, heart attack, or stroke. Heart muscle, valve, or rhythm disorders can induce other forms of heart disease, like heart failure.
Cardiovascular disease is the cause of death for one American each minute. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Most people are unaware of the gravity that heart disease is to them, or that it is closely related to other health problems such as hearing loss. Everyone should be aware of the risks and take preventative care to preserve their hearing and heart health.
Hearing Loss and Heart Health
How does hearing loss relate to heart health? Proper blood flow is important for hearing health. Research has indicated that healthy circulation helps support great hearing health. On the other hand, poor blood flow and damage to the blood vessels in the inner ear can lead to hearing loss.
The hair cells (stereocilia) located inside the cochlea, translate the sounds harnessed by your ears into electrical impulses. Your brain will then interpret them as recognizable sounds. This requires healthy blood circulation. Weak circulation will not adequately provide the hair cells with enough oxygen, which would cause them to become damaged or destroyed. These hair cells cannot be reproduced, which leads to permanent hearing loss.
According to an American Journal of Audiology study from 2010, research that had been done over the past 60 years on cardiovascular health and how it influenced hearing health, was reviewed. The researchers discovered that damaged cardiovascular health adversely impacts central and peripheral auditory systems, particularly in elderly adults.
A study from 2017 showed that 5,107 Australians had a strong connection between heart disease (along with risk factors for heart disease such a high blood pressure) with a higher risk of hearing loss.
Hearing Loss and Strokes
A stroke happens when the blood supply for the brain is obstructed and deprives the brain of oxygen. If a stroke occurs in parts of the brain that are needed for hearing and balance, the stroke may lead to hearing loss, dizziness, and other vestibular/balance changes.
Lasting Complications that arise due to Strokes
When the brain’s temporal lobe is impacted by a stroke, a person could experience lasting negative shifts in their ability to hear. These may involve struggling to distinguish speech sounds. In rare cases, a person might experience “auditory hallucinations”, where they hear sounds that do not exist.
Risks of Stroke: Hearing Loss in one Ear
There have been proven cases where individuals who experienced sudden hearing loss in one ear (sudden sensorineural hearing loss or SSNHL) were at a higher risk of having a stroke within the following few years after losing their ability to hear. It is uncertain as to why sudden hearing loss occurs, but researchers believe it may be caused by an obstructed blood flow in part of the brain that is important for hearing.
Engage in Exercises
Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent, but you might be able to preserve your residual hearing abilities by doing cardiovascular exercises.
A study conducted by researchers at Miami University found a beneficial link between sharpness in hearing and cardiovascular exercises. The study included 102 non-smokers between the ages of 22 and 78. After pedaling on a stationary bicycle, each of the test subjects had their hearing evaluated. The researchers determined that individuals who had higher cardiovascular fitness levels experienced better hearing, particularly for those who were at least 50 years of age.
A broader study that was published in the American Journal of Audiology in June of 2017 by researchers at the Department of Health, Exercises Science and Recreation Management at the University of Mississippi, Oxford, studied data from the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and included 1,070 participants who were at least 30 years old. Individuals in this study who exercised more showed reduced levels of triglyceride. High triglyceride levels are linked to hearing loss.
It is important to note that loud gyms and places that hold spin cycling classes can damage your hearing health.
Hearing Loss and Cardiovascular Disease
Cardiovascular disease should be taken seriously by everyone. It’s important to highlight that hearing health is just as important as heart health. There is so much data that links the two to one another, which can lead to additional health issues. It’s important to learn more to take action to care for our overall wellness.
Low-frequency hearing loss could indicate that cardiovascular disease is either present or may develop in a person. If you, or a loved one, are noticing hearing loss, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation. We offer a variety of hearing aids for a wide range of hearing loss.