If you experience a heart attack, chances are high you will also experience hearing loss.
The connection between the heart and hearing has been well documented, with nearly 75% of heart failure patients over the age of 70 experiencing hearing loss, according to a report published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. These older individuals with a history of heart failure had hearing loss 74.4% of the time, versus 63.3% of people without heart problems.
With February being designated as American Heart Month, Hearing Associates in Mason City, Iowa believes it’s a perfect time to understand the link between our heart and hearing and what we can do to protect both of them.
The Heart-Hearing Connection
The tiny hair cells in the cochlea (inner ear) need a steady supply of blood pumping from the heart. Heart disease can disrupt and limit the amount of blood flowing throughout the body, including to the ears.
If the supply of oxygen-rich blood is compromised due to heart issues, they become damaged. Once they die off, the cells do not regenerate – making the ensuing hearing loss permanent. Hearing loss, particularly at the lower frequencies, is thus an early indicator of heart disease.
Healthy Heart, Healthy Hearing
A study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that in women, higher levels of fitness were linked to a lower risk of hearing loss. Similarly, it concluded that females with a higher body mass index and larger waist measurements were connected to a greater level of hearing loss.
Take Steps to Reduce The Risks
Fortunately, there are a number of ways we can reduce our risk of both heart disease and hearing loss. The following measures promote healthy heart and hearing function:
- Increase physical activity: Aim for 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise. Even a little bit helps – one study found that exercising at least once a week decreased hearing loss risk by more than 30%.
- Monitor blood pressure: Remember to have it checked on a routine basis as a preventative measure.
- Reduce sodium intake: Salt can impair circulation, increasing the risk of damaging the inner ear.