Heart disease is one of the most common killers in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease kills about 610,000 people in the U.S. every year – making it the cause of roughly one in four deaths. Over the years, you’ve probably heard some tips for maintaining and improving your heart health – things like regularly exercising, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet. However, there is one aspect of heart health that often goes unrecognized: the correlation between hearing loss and heart disease.
Understanding the Link Between Hearing Loss and Heart DiseaseThere is an increasingly strong case for a connection between your hearing and heart health. First, while the ear is an incredibly powerful organ, it’s also very sensitive. The inner ear is extremely small, which makes it particularly susceptible to changes in blood flow. An unhealthy cardiovascular system may inhibit blood flow to the inner ear, causing long-term hearing loss. A study conducted by Harvard University identified a significant correlation between heart disease and hearing loss, finding that hearing loss was 54 percent more common in people with heart disease. Additionally, several recent studies – like this one published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology – have found that excessive noise over a long period of time may increase stress, negatively affecting your heart and your hearing health.It’s obvious that there is a connection between hearing loss and heart disease, which makes the shared risk factors all the more alarming.
Shared Risk FactorsA number of factors affect both your hearing health and your heart health. For example, one major cause of both heart disease and hearing loss is stress. High stress levels have been proven to reduce the flow of blood and oxygen to vital organs – including both the heart and the hearing system. Another shared risk factor is smoking. Of course, smoking is widely known as a dangerous habit, damaging blood vessels, increasing blood pressure, and causing plaque buildup. However, the damaging effects of smoking go beyond the cardiovascular system, actually increasing the risk of hearing loss by nearly 15 percent. There are several other shared risk factors for hearing loss and heart disease:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Poor diet
- Excessive alcohol use