by Brian Taylor, AuD, Editor-at-Large
Considerable research, much of it published over the past ten years, indicates that middle aged and older adults with hearing loss have increased odds of developing cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and overall poorer quality of life.
Case in point, this 2018 open access article in Hearing Research provides a valuable overview of the comorbidities associated with hearing loss of adventitious onset. Now, a study, published December 17 online at JAMA-Otolaryngology, builds on these findings.
Hearing Loss, Cognition and Cardiovascular Disease
Ariana Steckel of the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of California, San Diego and several colleagues examined the relationship between hearing loss and cognition and cardiovascular disease in a group of 9623 Hispanic/Latino adults.
Their analysis found that hearing impairment was associated with poorer cognitive performance on all tasks. Additionally, hearing impairment appeared to have exacerbated the associations between high glucose level and poorer cognition, particularly among Hispanic and Latino individuals.
While the actual study by Steckel and colleagues (available in its entirety here) is a valuable contribution to the audiology comorbidity literature, the invited commentary, authored by Nicole Marrone and Aileen Wong of the University of Arizona is well worth reading, especially for hearing care professionals.
Coming on the heels of another important recently published article by Nick Reed and colleagues at Johns Hopkins that sheds light on the inequities in the American hearing healthcare system, Marrone and Wong implore clinicians to reflect on their roles as gatekeepers of healthcare access and “practice cultural humility to be responsive to community needs….through authentic relationships built on trust, respect, and reciprocity. Advancing equity in clinical practice begins with each of us listening, learning, and compassionately caring for one another better.”
Sage advice as we approach a new year and begin to untangle from the chaos and ineptitude experienced in 2020.