It is not exactly breaking news that cardiovascular disease (CVD), which impacts heart and / or blood vessels, is a very dangerous affliction. In fact, American Heart Association (AHA) says CVD is the No. 1 killer in the United States, accounting for more than a third of all deaths every year.
Healthy heart, arteries and veins are crucial to good overall health and longevity. And, research shows, they also have a positive impact on hearing.
We already knew that there was a strong correlation between heart health and good hearing, but now we have even more proof: New research published in a recent edition of the American Journal of Audiology, a publication of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), reported that a healthy cardiovascular system boosts our hearing over time, particularly among older adults.
All this may sound Greek to you, but, in fact, the mechanism we are talking about here is not as complex as it sounds.
The Cochlea – an essential part of hearing
The cochlea is a snail-shaped, fluid-filled tube in each of our inner ears and contains millions of tiny receptor hair cells. It plays a very important role in our hearing because it translates sound into nerve impulses that are sent to the brain. However, trauma to a cochlea’s blood vessels can cause nerve deafness.
If the cochlea becomes damaged – for example, by a degenerative cardiovascular disease - our hearing capacity can be greatly diminished or lost altogether.
This is not just hearsay; it has been proven by various research, including the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study (EHLS), carried out in 2002 in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. As part of that research, cochlear function was tested in about 1,600 people ages 52 to 97.
Researchers found that participants with a history of cardiovascular disease were on average 54 percent more likely to have impaired cochlear function (hearing loss) than those without CVD.
Additionally, hearing loss appeared in nearly 80 percent of those who had myocardial infarction – damage or destruction of heart tissue caused by obstruction of the blood supply to the heart muscle.
If you are frightened by these findings, you should be. But don’t just sit there and be scared – take action.
Be good to your heart and hearing
|Love your heart, love your hearing|
Since we know that blood flow is directly related to the vascular pattern of the cochlea, common sense dictates that we should be proactive in keeping our circulation – and thus the entire cardiovascular system – in top shape.
The good news coming out of the ASHA study is that cardiovascular fitness can protect our hearing by having a beneficial effect on the vascular pattern of the cochlea and, consequently, on hearing loss prevention.
Now that you know this, what can you do to protect your hearing – and health in general? The answer is very simple (and you have heard it many times before): Get healthy!
The AHA suggests these seven steps: get active, eat better, lose weight, stop smoking, control cholesterol, manage blood pressure, and reduce blood sugar (risk of diabetes).
What exactly does it mean? If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, don’t wait for a heart attack to take action. If you can’t lower your risk factors with a low-fat, healthy nutrition, your doctor might prescribe medications to help you get on the right track.
As far as smoking is concerned, it is not only bad for your heart (and health in general) but for your hearing as well – smoking and hearing loss studies have shown that smokers are nearly 70 percent more likely than non-smokers to suffer hearing loss.
In regards to reducing blood sugar, this can improve your hearing outlook even further by preventing diabetes. Studies have demonstrated diabetics are at risk for developing hearing loss. By preventing diabetes you are also helping to prevent hearing loss.
And getting active is easy too. You don’t need an expensive gym membership, a personal trainer or high-impact fitness routine to see positive results. The AHA says that even low-to-moderate intensity activities, when done for as little as 30 minutes a day, bring benefits. These activities include pleasure walking, climbing stairs, gardening, moderate-to-heavy housework, dancing and home exercise.
See, taking proactive steps to prevent both CVD and hearing loss is easy. As the saying goes: “Just do it!”