Los Angeles residents have many things to worry about: traffic-clogged freeways, escalating housing prices, scoring a reservation at that trendy new eatery. Unfortunately, if you have been diagnosed with heart disease, you should add hearing loss to your list of concerns.
The Connection Between Hearing & the Cardiovascular System
Cardiovascular disease is the nation’s #1 killer, responsible for about one in every three deaths. The condition affects an estimated 84 million Americans, impeding many aspects of their daily lives. 48 million Americans have been diagnosed with hearing loss. Believe it or not, there is quite a bit of overlap between the two; research points to hearing loss as an often-overlooked side effect of heart disease.
This surprising correlation is the result of poor blood flow. Obstructions in the arteries and veins – the hallmark of cardiovascular impairment – are believed to have an impact on the body’s peripheral and central auditory systems. This decrease in blood flow can cause the cochlea, a fluid-filled tube in the inner ear that translates sound waves into electronic pulses that are sent to the brain and interpreted as sound, to function improperly. The result? Hearing loss. A study of 1,600 patients with a history of heart disease indicated there is a 54% higher probability of experiencing impaired cochlear functioning as a result of cardiovascular disease. Conversely, a healthy heart translates to unimpeded blood flow and fewer hearing problems.
Taking Steps to Prevent Hearing Loss
While the above figures can be discouraging, if you are suffering from heart disease there are steps you can take to help prevent or reduce the likelihood of developing hearing loss. Doctors recommend adopting a healthy lifestyle first and foremost; improve your diet by switching to heart-healthy foods, lose weight if you are obese, refrain from smoking, limit your alcohol consumption, and maintain a healthy blood pressure.
If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease, regular hearing evaluations are crucial in helping to detect problems early. Similarly, if you have hearing loss, routine cardiovascular screenings can help determine whether you are suffering from undetected heart disease.
Your Los Angeles audiologist can help answer questions regarding the link between cardiovascular health and hearing loss.