Did you know that your heart health is linked to your hearing health? In fact, there’s an important connection between your ears and your heart. And neglecting your cardiovascular system could spell trouble for your hearing. Let’s discuss!

1. How Are Heart Health and Hearing Health Related?

Normal blood flow is critical for good hearing health. Inside the inner ear, there exist tiny, delicate hair cells that turn sound into electrical impulses. And these impulses travel to the brain so we can hear speech, music or noise. Those hair cells rely on good circulation to function properly. Heart disease and hypertension can decrease the blood flow to the inner ear. If those hair cells don’t get enough oxygen, they can become permanently damaged. Without those hair cells, you become unable to hear as well as you should.

2. Can Hearing Loss Be an Indicator of Issues With Cardiovascular Health?

It can indeed. The inner ear is small, sensitive and susceptible to changes in blood flow. As a result, cardiovascular disease usually affects the ear first. In fact, about 40% of people with mild or moderate hypertension also have hearing loss. 

3. So How Can People Take Care of Their Cardiovascular Systems?

Proper cardiovascular care starts with knowing and decreasing your risk factors. Keys to good heart health include staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking. You should also stay on top of your blood pressure, cholesterol level, and hemoglobin AIC. People with diabetes often experience elevated levels of hemoglobin AIC, so it’s especially important to monitor that if you also have diabetes.

If you do have high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, make sure you talk to your doctor about what you can do to get your numbers into a normal range. This may include changing your diet, your lifestyle or taking prescription medication.

By taking care of your cardiovascular system, you’re also protecting your hearing health proactively. Consider these studies and stats which better demonstrate how cardiovascular risk factors are also associated with hearing loss: 

  • A new study from JAMA confirming that smoking increases the risk of hearing loss. 
  • The American Diabetes Association stating that hearing loss is twice as common in people who have diabetes and that people with prediabetes (blood sugar levels higher than normal but not high enough yet to have type 2 diabetes) have a 30% higher rate of hearing loss than people with normal blood sugar levels.  
  • This study from Japan correlating overweigh and obesity with an increased risk of hearing loss.
  • Another study from JAMA that found that hearing loss was more prevalent in individuals with worse physical activity profiles.

4. What Other Health Issues Are Associated With Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss is strongly associated with diminished mental health, specifically memory-related conditions like dementia. Research from Johns Hopkins shows that mild hearing loss doubles the risk of dementia, while moderate hearing loss triples the risk. 

Hearing loss also increases the risk of falls and injuries. Hearing plays an important role in maintaining your balance and equilibrium. Without it, you become more prone to falling and injury. People with mild hearing loss are three times more likely to fall and more likely to have an injury when they are working, driving or just having fun. 

Finally, people with hearing loss are at higher risk for depression and social isolation. Hearing loss can contribute to feelings of shame and embarrassment due to being unable to follow conversations successfully. As a result, people with untreated hearing loss ten to withdraw from group interactions altogether. 

5. What Should Someone Do if They Suspect They Have Hearing Loss?

Don’t procrastinate. Visit a hearing care professional to get your hearing professionally tested. A hearing specialist can definitively tell you whether you have hearing loss and how severe the diagnosis is. Then, you are your provider can discuss your options so you can get back to hearing your best. 

Stay Proactive When It Comes to Your Hearing Health and Heart Health

Hearing loss is not curable, but it is treatable. And the sooner you start treatment, the better the potential outcome. In fact, researchers are looking at whether earlier use of hearing aids can delay or prevent dementia

Find out what noises you may be missing! Schedule an appointment today for a hearing consultation. And if you aren’t sure whether you have hearing loss, try our FREE online hearing screening in the privacy of your own home.