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Cardio and Audio: Two Types of Health with a Lot in Common

Healthy blood flow, we all know, is key to our overall well-being. Often, however, people tend to associate that well-being with their hearts, lungs and major arteries; those are the areas of health that get a lot of press when it comes to the idea of having an annual physical. That focus isn’t wrong, but it is incomplete. There are blood vessels throughout our bodies that feed even the farthest points from our hearts—even the hidden recesses of the inner ear.

The tiny vessels that service the inner ear are, in fact, very sensitive to blood flow changes; poor blood flow in that area may very well cause damage to the hair cells and auditory nerve that send sound data to the brain. Indeed, research has indicated that heart health and hearing health may have quite a bit in common.

 

Let’s take a closer look at some of that research:

  • Smoking: By now, we should all know that smoking is a poor choice to make. But you may be surprised to know that it isn’t just heart, lungs and throat that smoking endangers. Persistent smoking raises one’s risk of hearing loss by more than 15%.
  • Vascular Abnormalities: These have nothing to do with lifestyle choices. Some people are born with some blood vessels that are either clustered or poorly shaped. They may never cause discomfort, but when they do, one symptom that can arise is called pulsatile tinnitus. In those cases, people experience a pulsing sensation or whooshing sound in the ear that often keep time with their heartbeat. Treatments for such abnormalities vary.
  • Women, Heart Attacks and Hearing: Women who have had heart attacks have well over twice the risk of cochlear impairment than women who have not had heart attacks. The cochlea is an organ of the inner ear, in which vibrations are turned into electrical impulses and then sent to the brain, where they are recognized as individual sounds.
  • Woman, Waist-Size and Exercise: Women who chart higher on the Body Mass Index or have a larger waist circumference may be at an increased risk of hearing loss. On the other side of that coin, increased physical activity has been associated with a reduced risk of hearing loss for women.
  • Waist Circumference in Men: For men younger than 55, Large waist circumference among men has been identified as a risk factor for age-related hearing impairment.

Research continues to support a significant link between be cardiovascular health and healthy hearing. What does that mean in practical terms? Anyone with heart disease, or who is at risk for developing it, should begin having their hearing tested annually. That goes for people with high blood pressure or any other condition that can constrict the flow of blood. In fact, it is recommended that all adults over 55 have a baseline hearing test. A thorough hearing exam now will give your hearing care professional a hearing level to check against during future exams.

 

Just like the blood tests and eye exams that are so common, hearing tests are preventive medicine. In fact, having one’s hearing tested may very well lead to the discovery of an ailment of which they were not even aware; that is just how closely hearing is connected to what happens in the rest of the body.

 

If you would like to learn more about the connections between cardiovascular health and the sense of hearing, please contact us. We’ll be happy to provide all the information you need.

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