The Heart and Hearing Connection

by: Fran Springer
If you are wondering how your cardiovascular health and hearing are linked, the answer is circulation. Cardiovascular disease is a disease of the heart and blood vessels. The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow. If blood flow is inadequate, interrupted or the vessels suffer a trauma, the result can be damage to the inner ear nerves, negatively impacting a person’s ability to hear.
Research shows that maintaining a healthy blood flow helps to safeguard hearing, while poor circulation and damage to the blood vessels of the inner ear can create long-term hearing problems.  The fragile hair cells (cilla) in your cochlea (inner ear) need a steady supply of oxygen to survive. These hair cells play a vital role in transforming the sounds you hear into electrical signals which can be interpreted by the brain. When poor circulation results in an inadequate oxygen supply to the inner ear, the hair cells have an increased risk of becoming irreversibly damaged, resulting in permanent hearing loss.
Gen Xers and baby boomers should no longer ignore their hearing loss, which is raising awareness of the link between cardiovascular and hearing health. Taking steps toward a healthy heart is a fantastic way to ensure you’ll have healthy hearing for years to come.
“Americans need to take cardiovascular disease seriously”, says Charles E. Bishop, AuD, Assistant Professor in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences. According to Bishop, we should be aware of not only its potentially fatal complications, but also of the way it can impact all areas of life–including the health of our ears.
People with cardiovascular problems may be more prone to hearing loss. Researchers now have a theory that low frequency hearing loss could be a sign that cardiovascular disease is present or could potentially develop. If you have noticed any irregularities with your hearing, schedule a hearing test appointment with your audiologist and follow up with your family doctor for an assessment of your overall health.
A healthy heart and hearing are not only beneficial to one’s physical well-being but are also beneficial to a positive outcome and an optimum quality of life. Incorporate annual hearing checks into your routine medical exam.

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