The Connection Between Heart and Ears
People take matters of the heart very seriously and they tend to brush off hearing loss as inconsequential. The truth is your heart and ears have a lot more in common than most people realize. Specifically, Raymond H. Hull, professor of audiology and Stacy R. Kerschen, a research audiologist, 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 work, which reviewed 70 scientific studies, confirmed a direct link. The findings of their analysis also suggest 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,” says Hull. “If it doesn't get it due to cardiovascular health problems, then hearing can be affected."
Dr. David R. Friedland, a professor of otolaryngology, went so far as to conclude from his study that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events and appropriate referrals should be considered.
He explains the heart-hearing link like this:
“The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”
Other experts find the evidence compelling. They say the ear may be a window to the heart and encourage collaboration among audiologist, cardiologists and other healthcare professionals.
5 things your heart and ears have in common:
1) Someone with heart disease is at a higher risk of depression—and someone with unaddressed hearing loss is at a higher risk of depression. But research shows that people with hearing loss who use hearing aids are more likely to be optimistic and feel engaged in life.
2) Exercise is good for your heart—and exercise is good for your ears. One study found that a higher level of physical activity is associated with a lower risk of hearing loss in women.
3) Smoking hurts your heart—and it’s really bad for your ears too. Research shows that both smokers and passive smokers are more likely to suffer hearing loss.
4) Your heart and ears love omega-3 fatty acids. Research found that regular fish consumption and higher intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are associated with a lower risk of hearing loss in women.
5) Obesity puts people at risk for heart disease—and it affects hearing function. A number of studies show a link between obesity and hearing loss. One looked at women (18 to 40 years old) and found a link. Another uncovered a connection between higher Body Mass Index (BMI) and a larger waist circumference, and hearing loss in women.
As you see your heart and ears have a lot in common. Love and take care of them both!
For information or if interested in knowing about hearing sensitivity, contact Mimi Salamat today.
by Mimi T. Salamat, Ph.D., CCC-A, FAAA
Clinical Audiologist and Tinnitus Specialist
Walnut Creek, CA
* This article was adapted from a report published by Better Hearing Institute during American Heart Month.