The Heart-Hearing Connection
The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow. Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system—a person’s heart, arteries, and veins—has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.
The authors of a study published in the American Journal of Audiology concluded that the negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health on both the peripheral and central auditory system—the potential positive influence of improved cardiovascular health on these same systems—have been found through a sizable body of research conducted over more than six decades.
David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, has been studying the relationship between cardiovascular and hearing health for years. According to Friedland: “The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that any abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”
In their study, published in The Laryngoscope, Dr. Friedland and fellow researchers found that audiogram pattern correlates strongly with cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease and may represent a screening test for those at risk. They even concluded that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events, and appropriate referrals should be considered.
Cardiovascular diseases, including heart disease and stroke, cause 17.3 million deaths each year. For more information about World Heart Day, cardiovascular health, and how people can reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, visit www.world-heart-federation.org