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When a person has one health condition, population statistics can reveal that the person is more likely to have another health condition at the same time. This relationship is referred to in public health as a “comorbidity,” meaning that those who have one problem are more likely, on average, to have another problem, too. In some cases, the conditions are directly connected. For instance, those who have problems with mobility can also have problems with physical fitness. It seems clear that a limitation on physical mobility can lead to muscle atrophy or other outcomes that are associated directly with that mobility challenge. Other comorbidities are more mysterious. We can see in the population data that those who have one condition are likely to have another, but that statistical relationship doesn’t explain the connection between the two. Such is the case with hearing loss and cardiovascular disease. Those who have untreated hearing loss are more likely to have cardiovascular disease than their counterparts who do not have hearing loss. Yet, experts do not believe that hearing loss is causing heart failure or any issues with the cardiovascular system directly. Instead, this comorbidity is better thought of as a warning sign. If a person has untreated hearing loss, it might even be reason enough to perform tests on the cardiovascular system, seeing if there are issues afoot. Let’s take a look at how this warning sign works, as well as a possible link within the body that would connect hearing loss and cardiovascular health. If you get a diagnosis of hearing loss, you can even communicate this information to your primary care physician, making sure that all the updated information is available about your needs.
Cardiovascular Health and Hearing
When a person has good cardiovascular health, there is a steady supply of oxygenated blood traveling to all the parts of the body, including the ears. That supply of oxygen is crucial for bodily functioning, and the ears are no exception. In fact, parts of the inner ear are very sensitive to the supply of oxygen. The tiny, hairlike organelles of the inner ear, called stereocilia, are sensitive to slight fluctuations in the pressure of the inner ear chambers called the cochlea. This sensitivity is necessary to distinguish one sound from another, and the receptors of the inner ear that signal a specific frequency of sound need to limit that stimulus from other similar sounds. When you think of the complex ability to discern the voice of a person without seeing their face, you can see how useful that sensitivity is! However, that same sensitivity makes the stereocilia likely to become bent, broken, or otherwise damaged. When the stereocilia do not receive the oxygen they need from the bloodstream, they can be permanently damaged, causing hearing loss. Although they don’t know for sure, experts point to this connection as a possible link between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss. When a cardiovascular issue deprives the stereocilia of the oxygen they need, they can become damaged.
A Warning Sign of Cardiovascular Disease
In this way, a diagnosis of hearing loss can be seen as a warning sign of potential cardiovascular issues. Although it is not a sure thing that those who have hearing loss will also have poor cardiovascular health, the increased likelihood through the comorbidity is enough to make doctors worried. They can use this information to engage in further testing, particularly when there are other warning signs, symptoms, or comorbidities to consider. When you get your hearing test, you will be setting yourself up for the treatment you need. This treatment is necessary to improve communication ability, social relationships, and even cognitive functioning. However, this hearing test is not only a way to connect with hearing aids. You can share the findings of your hearing test with your primary care physician. Getting a diagnosis of hearing loss might be enough to warn your doctor about cardiovascular disease, and you can connect with treatment for both conditions with that information in hand. Why not give your doctor all the information available about your integrative health and possible comorbidities by scheduling a hearing test today?