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Hearing Blog

Your hearing and your heart

August 17, 2022

Keeping our body in tune means more than just hitting the machines at the gym.  We all know that we are supposed to eat right AND to exercise if we want to be healthy if we want to keep our "ticker" in great working condition.  The connection between our cardiovascular and auditory systems has been studied for many years.  Research reveals a link between hearing health and cardiovascular health.
Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin found that certain audiometric patterns and arterial disease have similar correlations.  For example, typical hearing loss is gently sloping, or perhaps just a high-frequency loss, we see this type of loss quite a bit.  However, one pattern of a hearing test may be a "reverse slope audiogram".  This type of hearing loss is when the patient has more hearing loss in the low frequencies than in the high frequencies.  The patient may even hear the high frequencies normally.  A reverse slope audiogram is not the norm.  The construction of the inner ear will typically produce a flat, gently sloping, or high-frequency hearing loss, due to aging, life activities, and normal wear and tear.  When a hearing test reveals a reverse slope then we look for other physical issues.  Such a reverse slope pattern may suggest possible current cardiovascular disease.  The study, published in The Laryngoscope, prompts hearing professionals to consider making a referral to assess cardiovascular health and risk factors after a low-frequency hearing loss has been identified.  

Professor and Vice Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences David R. Friedland, M.D., Ph.D., explains that " 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."  Our hearing system is sensitive to changes in blood flow.  If we have inadequate blood flow, then our hearing may become damaged.  Researchers believe that hearing loss can result from damage to blood vessels in the inner ear.  Damaged blood vessels reduce blood flow, causing permanent damage to the structures in the inner ear.  While certain structures in our bodies have a backup supply of blood flow, the inner ear does not, and that leaves it more vulnerable to damage.  

The link between hearing health and cardiovascular health is strong.  Hearing loss is very seldom found in isolation, it is usually accompanied by other health conditions.  Researchers from Miami University published in (American Journal of Audiology, June 2010), found that the higher the level of cardiovascular fitness, the better the hearing for older research participants.  An active lifestyle can improve cardiovascular health and increase blood flow to the ear.  The American Journal of Medicine also confirms that increased physical activity can decrease your risk for hearing loss.  Additional cardiovascular disease risk factors, that can also increase the risk of hearing loss, include a sedentary lifestyle, increased body mass index, and a large waist circumference.   If you are over the age of 40 the Better Hearing Institute recommends annual hearing evaluations as part of their routine medical screenings.  Our office always offers free Hearing Screenings.  If you need one just call (863) 385-3497.  To Hear Better Is to Live Better!


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