Connection between Heart and Ears — Breaking research
A strong relationship exists between heart health and our ears.
Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system (the heart, veins, and arteries) is reflected in our ears and the quality of our hearing. This relationship is so compelling, many say, “the ear is the window to the heart.”
Hearing loss can be an important indicator of heart health
Recently the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) has stressed the point that hearing loss is a warning sign for significant cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes, and this is something we can’t ignore.
A recent study led by Madeline R. Sterling, MD, MPH at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York examined the prevalence and correlates of hearing loss among adults aged 70 and older with and without heart failure.
Most adults with heart failure have hearing loss, and there is something they can do about it…
The study revealed that older adults with heart failure have an 11.1% greater risk of developing hearing loss and are 1.67x more likely to develop intense hearing loss.
Incredibly, 75% of older adults with heart failure had hearing loss and only 16.3% of them used hearing aids!
It’s no surprise that older adults don’t use hearing aids (historically, access and cost have been hurdles), but the fact that so many had hearing loss is concerning. Patient education and counseling are cornerstones of heart failure management, but when the patient can’t hear, these interventions become increasingly challenging.
Your audiologist specializes in hearing while supporting your total health and wellness
The next step is to question the specific associations between the heart and ears. Does hearing loss precede heart disease? Or vice versa? Is there a preexisting condition that leads to both?
Heart failure patients typically have other chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. These diseases may affect hearing, or in some cases, the medications used to manage them have some harmful affect. More research is being done in this area, so that we can better understand the connections between the heart and ears.
Dr. Sterling emphasizes the need for all healthcare providers to be aware that hearing loss is very common among older adults with heart failure.
Since your audiologist plays a central role in the detection and treatment of hearing loss, you should consult them if you notice any hearing changes. It’s also important to have any other healthcare providers you see contact your audiologist to ensure you get the best care possible.