Listen to your heartbeat - you may be surprised at what you hear. February is Heart Health Month, but your heart may be telling you something about your hearing
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.1 The inner ears are extremely sensitive to blood flow. Heart problems can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries and restrict blood flow, which also causes irreversible damage to the ear.1 Also, the delicate nerves in the cochlea play an important role in translating noise in your ears to electrical impulses to your brain.
“The inner ear is so sensitive to blood flow that it is possible any abnormalities in the cardiovascular system could be noted here earlier than in other less sensitive parts of the body,” explains David Friedland, MD, Ph.D., of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Dr. Friedland has been studying the hearing-cardiovascular connection for years.
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.2 Here are 9 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 more resources at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
- Eat healthier
Load up on veggies, whole grains and lean proteins.
- Limit salt
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.
- Quit smoking
It's the single biggest change that you can make to improve your heart health.
- Reduce stress
Take time for yourself and try daily meditation. Just 10-20 minutes a day can make a difference.
- Increase exercise
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.
So in the spirit of February's American Heart Month, find out what your ears may be saying about your heart, take our hearing quiz now.