Heart Disease and Hearing Loss

There are various known risk factors for the development of cardiovascular disease, including diet and lifestyle, family history, and age, as well as conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and other vascular disease.  But what does all that have to do with your ears?

The Research

A growing body of research suggests that hearing loss and cardiovascular disease are often linked. Although the nature of this connection is still under investigation, experts suggest that injury to blood vessels and impaired blood flow may be to blame.

From the Hearing Health Foundation, “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,” explains David R. Friedland, MD, PhD

A study published in ENT Today  reported that Low-frequency hearing loss could be an early indicator that a patient has cerebrovascular disease or is at risk for cardiovascular disease.

The Inner Ear

The inner ear is highly vascularized (meaning it has a lot of blood vessels). It is possible that a change in the health of the blood vessels could affect hearing.  The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that any abnormalities in their condition could be noted earlier than in other parts of the body that are less sensitive to subtle changes in the blood vessel health.

In one study, published in The Laryngoscope, Dr. Friedland and fellow researchers found that audiogram pattern correlates strongly with cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease and may represent a screening test for those at risk. They even concluded that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events, and appropriate referrals should be considered.

Maybe its time to get your hearing checked for more reasons than just the obvious.