A Link Between Hearing Loss and Your Heart?

March 12, 2019.  A few years ago I read a book, ‘Scotland’s Inventors – How Scotland Invented Everything’, by Callan Anderson (See https://www.amazon.com/Scotlands-Inventors-Scotland-Invented-Everything-ebook/dp/B00E51N5BG).  At first I thought this was a joke, but quickly realized that the book explained Scottish connections to inventions and schools of thought.  ‘Who knew?’ was my reaction.

I was reminded of this book as new information keeps coming out on the link between our hearing and the physiology of our body.  The most recent is a link between hearing loss and heart disease.  What?  My mother had a heart condition and I spent many years traipsing to cardiologists with her over the years.  Not once did one of her cardiologists discuss her hearing, although it was obvious to each one that she had hearing loss!  They discussed her other medical conditions and diet, but hearing health?  Not once.  So I read the articles discussing a link with both great interest and scepticism.

So what’s the link? Our inner ears have a lot of blood vessels.  Per a study by Dr. David Friedland, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and other researchers, any change, such as injury to the blood vessel and impaired blood flow, can affect your hearing.  This suggests that any change in low-frequency hearing can be an indicator that there is risk of cardiovascular disease!  An audiogram may provide a hint that the person may be at risk for a heart condition! (See https://aberdeenaudiology.com/2019/02/13/heart-disease-and-hearing-loss-2/  and https://hearinghealthcenter.com/blog/the-link-between-heart-issues-and-hearing-loss/ and https://www.enttoday.org/article/low-frequency-hearing-loss-may-indicate-cardiovascular-disease/)

Another study, done at the Bionics Institute medical research facility in Australia, has found that tracking heart rate can be an early indicator of hearing loss. In this study, researchers found that sound levels directly affect heart rate.  A significantly lower heart rate was recorded when lower level sounds were played, while an increased heart rate occurred for higher level sounds.  The conclusion was that combining heart rate information with brain responses was an objective, and more accurate and effective, method of detecting hearing loss, particularly in infants.  (See https://www.timesnownews.com/health/article/tracking-heart-rate-can-help-detect-hearing-loss-early/375460)

We’d love to hear from audiologists and cardiologists to get their input on this link between heart health and hearing loss.  And of course we want to hear about your experiences, particularly if you have both a heart condition and hearing loss.

We all can do more to help build awareness of hearing issues, and to encourage hearing loss prevention programs.  With upcoming provincial and federal elections coming up in the near future, your voices and your suggestions for improvements to hearing accessibility are needed. Please share your ideas by commenting on this blog, or by sending an email to hearpei@gmail.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter @HearPEI.

© Daria Valkenburg


April Chapter meeting:  Tuesday, April 16, 2019 at 9:30 am at North Tryon Presbyterian Church. Guest speaker will be Lisa Gallant, pharmacist and owner of South Shore Pharmacy, who will talk about ototoxic drugs (drugs that affect your hearing).

Speech reading classes begin Spring 2019.  If you would like to register, send an email to hearpei@gmail.com.