Just as the eyes are the “windows to the soul”, the ears may very well provide a sneak peek at the condition of a person’s heart. While the ears tell nothing of the emotional state of a person, they may indeed help provide early detection for cardiovascular disease.
Research suggests a link between heart health and hearing loss. It’s a fact that the complex inner ear is extremely sensitive to changes in blood flow, and so potential problems with the cardiovascular system may be detected by the ear before other areas of the body. Damaged blood vessels can compromise blood flow in many parts of the body, but when it comes to the ear, the result can cause permanent hearing loss. Other parts of the body have a “back up” blood supply; whereas the delicate inner ear does not, and this leaves it vulnerable to damage from reduced blood flow.
The test results from a hearing exam may actually prompt a need for cardiovascular assessment. The shape of a person’s hearing loss is the tell-tale sign. A typical hearing loss from aging or hereditary factors usually takes the form of better hearing in the lower frequencies, which slopes to worse hearing in the higher frequencies. However, a pattern of low frequency hearing loss that slopes reversely to better hearing in the higher frequencies may be an indicator to refer for assessment of cardiovascular health.
There are many reasons to keep an eye on hearing as we age, including the link between hearing loss and dementia, and now the link between heart health provides yet another reason to be proactive. Individuals age 40 and over are recommended to have an annual hearing exam as part of their routine medical exam, especially those who have a history of heart disease.
Physical activity is key to many aspects of our health, and the good news is that a person may actually decrease their risk of hearing loss by increasing physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends an active lifestyle, healthy diet, and maintaining healthy blood pressure for good heart health. So, one factor in keeping your hearing strong may truly be as simple as keeping your pulse strong. Talk to your primary care physician today about scheduling a hearing evaluation with Professional Hearing Services.