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Research Shows Heart Health is Important to Hearing

We all know that cardiovascular disease can be deadly for your heart, but did you know it can also be detrimental to your hearing? It’s true. Studies of older adults indicate those with cardiovascular disease are 54 percent more likely to have a hearing impairment.

The research is particularly troubling for women, as those who have had a heart attack were 2.7 times more likely to develop a hearing impairment than those who have not had one. The studies did not find any connection between heart attack and hearing loss among men.

The connection was discovered through a study by the Population Health Program Faculty at Wisconsin University in 2002. Researchers reviewing studies from the last 60 years confirmed the connection in a June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Audiology, stating that impaired cardiovascular health is detrimental to the peripheral and central auditory system. The nerves of the peripheral system connect limbs and organs to your central nervous system; the central auditory system includes your ears as well as the part of the brain responsible for translating noise into recognizable sounds.

Researchers believe the connection between heart disease and hearing loss lies in the cardiovascular system’s ability to provide blood supply to the inner ear. The inner ear is responsible for interpreting the sounds we collect with our outer ears into the signals our brain interprets to hear. The blood vessels in the inner ear are so dependent on good blood flow, researchers even believe that a diagnosis of low frequency hearing impairment may be a good indicator of existing or impending heart disease.

Getting off the couch is a good way to lessen your chances of developing both conditions. Health professionals have been encouraging Americans to engage in at least 30 minutes of “moderately intense” daily exercise for years – and now studies have confirmed that individuals who exercise even once a week are 32 percent less likely than sedentary people to develop hearing loss.

During exercise, the cardiovascular system has to work to supply oxygen and other nutrients to all parts of the body. Those who exercise consistently develop efficient, stress-free cardiovascular systems which provide better blood flow through out the body.

Moderate activity can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which also improves circulation. Additionally, exercise is also known to decrease the incidents of depression, anxiety and social isolation – psychological factors associated with untreated hearing loss. (Please consult your family physician before starting any exercise routine).

Other ways you can improve the health of your cardiovascular system include limiting your use of alcohol, tobacco, and recreational and prescription drugs. These cause blood vessel restriction and, especially in the case of alcohol and tobacco, weaken your immune system. Some prescription drugs may also intensify tinnitus, a condition described as a constant ringing in the ears.

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