BHI Urges People with Heart Disease to Get Their Hearing Checked During American Heart Month
Washington, DC, January 09, 2012 – People with heart disease should get their hearing checked because of the link between cardiovascular and hearing health, according to the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). Likewise, anyone with hearing loss should pay close attention to their cardiovascular health. And to help people quickly assess if they need an objective hearing test by a hearing health professional, BHI is offering a free, quick, and confidential online hearing check—the Across America Hearing Check Challenge—at www.hearingcheck.org.
BHI is offering this online convenience in recognition of National Wear Red Day®, which will be observed on February 3, and American Heart Month in February.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI’s Executive Director. “Yet, an alarming number of Americans don’t recognize how serious the threat of heart disease is to them personally. Nor do they understand how closely intertwined it is with other health conditions, such as hearing health. We urge everyone to know their risks and to take action today to protect their heart—and hearing—health.”
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 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, researchers looked at hearing sensitivity in older adults and its association with cardiovascular risk factors. They concluded that modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease may play a role in the development of age-related hearing loss. Risk factors associated with poorer hearing sensitivity in men included high triglyceride levels, high resting heart rate, and a history of smoking. In women, poor hearing sensitivity was associated with high body mass index, high resting heart rate, fast aortic pulse-wave velocity (PWV), and low ankle–arm index (AAI).
In still 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.
About Heart Disease
(Source: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute)
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), individuals can reduce their risk of having a heart attack—even if they already have coronary heart disease and have had a previous heart attack. The key is for individuals to take steps to prevent or control their heart disease risk factors. Individuals should:
- Stop smoking
- Lower high blood pressure
- Reduce high blood cholesterol
- Aim for a healthy weight
- Be physically active each day
- Manage diabetes
According to the NHLBI, the main warning signs of a heart attack are:
- Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts for more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back. The discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. The discomfort may be mild or severe, and it may come and go.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, which often comes along with chest discomfort. But it also can occur before chest discomfort.
- Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
More About Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids
Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk of personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health. But the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. And eight out of ten hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life.
About the Better Hearing Institute
Founded in 1973, the 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.
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