February is dedicated as American Heart month to encourage people to combat heart disease. With heart disease being the leading cause of death for both men and women, spreading awareness is important.

An unhealthy heart can lead to an unhealthy ear. Heart disease is linked to sensorineural hearing loss. Heart disease such as narrow arteries and high blood pressure can cause a hearing loss in the low and/or high frequencies. Poor circulation in the cochlea can result in a lack of oxygen to the hair cells, which results in a sensorineural hearing loss (Tan et al., 2017). Individuals should be aware that cardiovascular health can have a positive impact on hearing sensitivity (Hutchinson et al., 2010).

The evidence shows that, most often, hearing loss in the low frequencies is associated with heart disease. A recent study found that after adjusting for age, sex, and family history of hearing loss, cardiovascular disease, peripheral arterial disease, obesity, and smoking significantly affected hearing (Tan et al., 2017). In particular, high blood pressure, triglyceride, and glycated hemoglobin were significantly associated with a low frequency hearing loss (Tan et al., 2017).

Given these findings, it is possible that if cardiovascular disease is prevented, hearing loss could be prevented as well. A study from 2013 found that women that had more physical activity had better pure tone thresholds compared to age matched peers (Curhan et al). A higher body mass index and waist circumference were linked to increased risk of hearing loss in women (Curhan et al., 2013).

Since cardiovascular disease is a risk factor for hearing loss, individuals with cardiovascular disease should have a hearing evaluation. For more information about heart disease related hearing loss and/or hearing aids please contact Oro Valley Audiology, Inc by phone: (520) 825-4770 or email: orovalley@hearintucson.wpengine.com.

Curhan, Sharon G., et al. “Body Mass Index, Waist Circumference, Physical Activity, and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women.” The American Journal of Medicine, vol. 126, no. 12, 2013.
Hutchinson, Kathleen M., et al. “Association Between Cardiovascular Health and Hearing Function: Pure-Tone and Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emission Measures.” American Journal of Audiology, vol. 19, no. 1, 2010, pp. 26–35.
Tan, H.e., et al. “Associations between Cardiovascular Disease and Its Risk Factors with Hearing Loss-A Cross-Sectional Analysis.” Clinical Otolaryngology, vol. 43, no. 1, 2017, pp. 172–181.

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