How Are Hearing Loss & Heart Disease Linked? - Attune
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How Are Hearing Loss & Heart Disease Linked?

Heart Disease

Did you know that there’s a common link between cardiovascular (heart) health and hearing? 

Having a healthy heart and good blood flow can work wonders for your hearing. However, heart problems and poor blood flow can cause hearing loss. So, how is this possible? 

Today, we’ll look at how we hear, how heart disease and hearing loss are linked and what can be done to ensure a healthy heart and healthy hearing. 

How do we Hear?

The human ear of made up of three main parts:

  1. The outer ear includes the pinna (external/visible ear) and ear canal.
  2. The middle ear includes the eardrum, Eustachian tube (linking the middle ear and back of the nose/throat) and three tiny bones (malleus, incus and stapes). 
  3. The inner ear includes the hearing organ (cochlea) and balance organ. The cochlea houses thousands of tiny hair cells crucial for hearing. 

How do all of these parts work together to make us hear? 

  • The pinna collects sound waves in the air and sends them to the eardrum via the ear canal.
  • The eardrum then begins to move, causing the ossicles to move. 
  • The ossicles then push on the cochlea and cause fluid in the cochlea to move. This bends the hair cells in the cochlea, and electrical impulses are created. 
  • The hearing nerve carries these impulses to the brain, and sound is perceived. 

An issue in the outer, middle or inner ear may result in hearing loss. 

How do we Hear

How Are Heart Disease and Hearing Loss Related?

The inner ear houses the cochlea (hearing organ). The cochlea is lined with thousands of tiny hair cells responsible for converting sound waves into electrical signals sent to the brain for sound to be heard. 

The major and important systems in the body rely on the heart’s blood supply, and the ear is no different. 

The normal functioning of the inner ear depends on good blood flow, and any changes to this flow can disrupt the inner ear and affect hearing. 

Heart disease affects the blood flow to the rest of the body. For example, if an artery became clogged, it would affect the blood flow, meaning an inadequate amount of blood flood or oxygen reaches the hair cells in the inner ear. 

When this happens, the hair cells can become damaged or die off, and permanent hearing loss can occur as these cells do not regenerate. 

The hearing nerve, which carries messages to the brain, may also be affected. Blood carries oxygen, and if there is a reduced flow of blood, there is less oxygen reaching these important structures, damaging nerves. 

What Can Be Done

What Can Be Done? 

There are several preventable risk factors for heart disease, including: 

  • Smoking
  • High levels of stress
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Diabetes 

You can limit your risk of developing heart disease by controlling the preventable risk factors by making healthy lifestyle choices. 

Doing this will ensure a healthy heart and good blood flow, which will also benefit your hearing. Some healthy lifestyle changes include:

  • Reducing alcohol intake 
  • Quitting smoking
  • Eating a healthy and balanced diet 
  • Engaging in exercise and physical activity 
  • Reducing stress levels and taking care of your mental health 
  • Losing weight
  • Sleep well
  • Keeping an eye on blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Monitoring blood sugar level

To Sum It Up 

Around one million people in Australia have a cardiovascular condition, which can affect their hearing by limiting the blood flow and oxygen to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea. When this happens, a permanent hearing loss can occur. 

You can make several lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of getting heart disease. 

If you have heart disease and think you have hearing loss, book a comprehensive hearing test with your nearest Attune audiologist. 

Our audiologists are experienced and will determine the type and severity of your hearing loss based on your audiogram results. 

Book an appointment online or contact us on 1300 736 702.

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