February is American Heart Month
Maintaining a healthy heart lifestyle will not only add years to your lifespan, but will reduce your odds of developing hearing loss. The reason for this surprising correlation? The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow, so obstructions in the arteries and veins – symptoms of impaired cardiovascular health – can impact the peripheral and central auditory systems, leading to hearing impairment. Conversely, when the heart is healthy and the flow of blood is unimpeded, hearing problems are fewer.
The cochlea, a fluid-filled tube in the inner ear that translates sound into nerve impulses, fails to function properly when damaged or subjected to decreased blood flow. A study of 1,600 patients with a history of cardiovascular disease showed they were 54% more likely to experience impaired cochlear function, further evidence of how essential blood flow is to good hearing.
Doctors recommend taking preventative measures such as eating healthier, losing weight, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Individuals with hearing loss are encouraged to undergo cardiovascular screening to determine whether there is an increased health risk. And patients already diagnosed with heart disease should consider a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.