A Link Between Hypertension & Hearing Loss

They call it the silent killer. Affecting nearly half of all Americans, many of whom don’t even realize that they have it. It is the main cause of heart attacks and strokes.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common medical conditions in the country. Hypertension is when the pressure of the blood running through your arteries is too high. Blood pressure naturally rises and falls throughout the day. Consequently, the danger is when it stays high for a long time. The reason it is a silent killer is that it usually has no symptoms until the condition is urgent. The sufferer can’t feel the pressure of the blood in their arteries and doesn’t feel like anything is wrong. But without treatment, the risk of heart attack and stroke increases dramatically over the course of their life.

Hearing loss

Most people know that hypertension (or high blood pressure) leads to cardiovascular disease and stroke. But, did you know that it has also been linked to hearing loss? That’s according to a study conducted in 2013. It looked at 45-64-year olds, some of whom have hypertension and some who don’t. The study found that the hearing of those with high blood pressure was changing due to their hearing apparatus aging faster than those with normal blood pressure. This resulted in their hearing threshold increasing. The quietest sound a person can hear was higher for those with hypertension.

More evidence of the link between hearing loss and hypertension is available in an article by the American Heart Foundation. Here, the researchers found a connection between hypertension and sudden changes in hearing. The study also found that a person who suffers this sudden hearing loss was 150% more likely to experience a stroke two years after experiencing the change in hearing. As strokes are usually caused by hypertension, it could be that experiencing hearing loss is an indication of dangerously high blood pressure.

What is happening inside the body which makes high blood pressure affect the hearing? High blood pressure damages cells around the body, which also includes the tiny blood vessels which carry blood to the ear cells. If high blood pressure is chronic, there is a real risk of permanent damage to the ears. But luckily, if the high blood pressure can be brought down to a normal level after a short while, then the ears are able to recover from the damage.

Risk Factors for High Blood Pressure

People may experience high blood pressure due to a combination of nature and nurture. Some people are more likely if they have a family history of the disease. You are also at greater risk the older you get. This is because blood vessels are less elastic in our later years. However, there are also lifestyle choices we make that are a major factor in developing hypertension, such as smoking, a lack of exercise, and eating a diet high in sodium.

The obvious advice for those who wish to lower their blood pressure is to maintain a healthy diet, regular exercise, refrain from smoking and drinking excessively, and take actions to reduce everyday stress. Of particular interest is the DASH diet, which is a special low-sodium diet for hypertension sufferers. It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension and its proponents claim that it can help reduce blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks. Over time, it can affect a reduction in systolic blood pressure by eight to 14 points.

In the meantime, it is advised that people with hearing loss or hypertension have regular hearing and blood pressure check-ups. In other words, if you suffer from hypertension, you should get your hearing checked even if you don’t think you have a hearing problem, and vice versa.

Your primary care provider can check your blood pressure as part of your annual check-up. A certified hearing specialist can provide a thorough hearing test. Doing both is important because poor hearing could indicate high blood pressure, and high blood pressure could be an indication that hearing loss could occur soon. The two conditions go hand-in-hand. Keeping this connection in mind could go a long way in preserving your hearing, or more importantly, your life.

Visit Hearing Group for a professional hearing assessment

If you think your blood pressure may be putting your hearing at risk, or you are concerned about your hearing ability for any other reason, a hearing evaluation is of utmost importance. At Hearing Group, we offer comprehensive hearing screenings and hearing aid fittings. We can help you find the devices that are just right for you. Make your appointment today!

Jesse Hidalgo, BC-HIS

Jesse is Board Certified in Hearing Instruments and has built over 25 practices during his business career starting in 1998. Using his training in Hearing Instrument Sciences he has helped thousands of patients across those practices hear better.
Published: January 29, 2019
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