February is American Heart Month, so show your heart some love. It's a great time to take charge of your cardiovascular health, make a few lifestyle changes and learn something new.
Cardiovascular health is the health of the heart, arteries and veins. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for American men and women and it's responsible for one in four deaths.
Heart health affects your whole body. Did you know that your cardiovascular health is linked to your hearing health? Yes, over six decades of research point to a strong connection between cardiovascular health and hearing loss. Although there are many causes of hearing loss, cardiovascular disease may increase the impact of hearing loss. Scientists believe that it's all about blood flow.
When your heart, arteries and veins are clear and healthy, blood is able to flow freely. But when there's a blockage or damage, blood flow is reduced in vessels all over your body. The small, delicate inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that any issues with the cardiovascular system might affect the inner ear before other parts of the body that aren't as sensitive. Your ear could be a window to your heart.
Reduced blood flow may affect the delicate hairs that line the cochlea of the inner ear. Those hairs are responsible for sending sound signals to the brain. When the hairs are damaged, the sound signals can't be interpreted correctly.
Source: CDC Vital Signs, Feb 2017
Your inner ear and brain depend on a healthy blood flow. Cardiovascular disease limits that oxygen-rich blood supply to the inner ear and also parts of the brain that interpret sounds. Comprehension can become more difficult, as well as the ability to quickly and accurately process sounds.
What can I do?
Some studies show that a healthy cardiovascular system may positively affect hearing. Small lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for heart disease and hearing loss. Here are some steps that you can take today...
Heart disease affects so many families. Spread the word about American Heart Month this February, take a CPR course, join a walk or fundraiser and encourage loved ones to live heart-healthy lives with you. Find resources at the American Heart Association.
Load up on veggies, whole grains and lean proteins.
Avoid processed foods and use spices and herbs to flavor meals that you make at home.
Enjoy more fish
Salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce blood pressure, prevent plaque buildup and hearing loss. Learn more here.
It's the single biggest change that you can make to improve your heart health.
Take time for yourself and try daily meditation. Just 10-20 minutes a day can make a difference.
A moderate walk five times a week can help your health and stress levels.
Protect your ears
Walk away from loud noises, turn down the volume and keep earplugs in your purse or car for unexpected, noisy situations. Read this for more ear protection tips.
Know your numbers
Track your blood pressure, blood glucose levels, BMI, HDL and total cholesterol.
If you have hearing loss, you should work with your doctor to monitor your cardiovascular health. And if you have cardiovascular disease, you should get your hearing tested regularly. Detecting heart disease or hearing loss empowers you to take the right steps to improve your quality of life and enjoy the years ahead.
Over 50? A hearing test every 3 years is recommended. It turns out that getting your hearing tested isn't just good for your ears; it's also smart for your heart. Find a hearing professional near you today.