Cardiovascular disease is a disease of the heart and blood vessels. Many of the problems surrounding heart disease are a direct result of a condition called atherosclerosis in which plaque builds up on the arteries, narrowing the arterial path, making it harder for blood to flow through the veins, arteries and ultimately bodily organs. The inner ear is extremely sensitive to blood flow.
If blood flow is inadequate, interrupted or the vessels suffer a trauma, the result can be damage to the inner ear nerves, negatively impacting a person’s ability to hear. In fact, the nerves in the inner ear as so fragile that Harvard researches believe they may be the first organ affected by cardiovascular disease. In essence, hearing loss may be one of the earliest indicators of heart disease.
A leading researcher in the area of the heart-hearing link is David R. Friedland, MD, PhD, Professor and Vice-Chair of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He has been studying the relationship for years and says “The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible that abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body.”
Subsequently, a healthy cardiovascular system can have a positive impact on hearing. It’s important to adopt a lifestyle that supports both a healthy heart and healthy hearing. The British Heart Association suggest the following to a healthier life: get active, reduce stress, eat healthy, lose weight, quit smoking, get adequate sleep, watch your cholesterol, manage blood pressure, and reduce your blood sugar and risk for diabetes. Also, incorporate hearing checks into your routine medical exams.