BHI Highlights Connection between Heart and Hearing Health in Recognition of World Heart Day
Washington, DC, September 27, 2011 - In recognition of World Heart Day, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is raising awareness of the connection between cardiovascular and hearing health, and is urging people with cardiovascular disease to get their hearing checked. A growing body of research indicates that an individual’s hearing health and cardiovascular health frequently correspond. So to help people determine if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional, BHI has made available a free, quick, and confidential online hearing test at www.hearingcheck.org.
According to the World Heart Federation, World Heart Day takes place each year on September 29 and was created in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 17.1 million lives each year. At least 80 percent of premature deaths from heart disease and stroke could be avoided if the main risk factors, tobacco, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity, were controlled, the organization says.
“Heart disease poses a tremendous health threat throughout the world,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director. “Yet, an alarming number of people don’t understand how serious the threat of heart disease is to them personally, or how closely intertwined it is with other health conditions, such as hearing health. We urge people to learn about heart disease, identify their risks, and take action today to protect their health.”
For more information about World Heart Day and cardiovascular health, people can visit www.world-heart-federation.org.
The Connection between Heart and Hearing Health
The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow. Studies have shown that a healthy cardiovascular system—a person’s heart, arteries, and veins—has a positive effect on hearing. Conversely, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.
Some researchers hypothesize that because the inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow, abnormalities in the condition of blood vessels here could be noted earlier than in other, less sensitive parts of the body.
In one study, published in The Laryngoscope, researchers hypothesized that low-frequency hearing loss is associated with underlying cardiovascular disease; and a mathematical formula using audiometric pattern and medical history to predict the probability of cardiovascular diseases and events was developed and tested. The researchers concluded that the audiogram pattern correlates strongly with cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease, and that it may represent a screening test for those at risk. The researchers also concluded that patients with low-frequency hearing loss should be regarded as at risk for cardiovascular events, and that appropriate referrals should be considered.
In another study, published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Audiology, the authors reviewed research that had been conducted over the past 60 plus years. They found that the negative influence of impaired cardiovascular health on both the peripheral and central auditory system, and the potential positive influence of improved cardiovascular health on these same systems, was found through a sizable body of research.
“The hearing healthcare community has long observed a connection between heart health and hearing health,” Kochkin adds. “In recognition of World Heart Day, we feel it is important to encourage people to address both their heart and hearing health. We also hope to raise awareness of the ongoing research being conducted on this important topic.”
Founded in 1973, BHI conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment. For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org. To take the BHI Quick Hearing Check, visit at www.hearingcheck.org. To participate in the discussion forum, visit www.betterhearing.org, click on “Discussion Forum,” and go to “Welcome!” to register.