Is tinnitus a symptom of heart disease

First acute hearing loss, then heart attack

BERKELEY. Various risk factors for cardiovascular disease are also associated with an increased risk of sudden hearing loss.

Microvascular damage, for example, plays an important role in the development of sudden hearing loss. In addition, smokers and patients with a history of cardiovascular disease seem to be more at risk of hearing loss.

It is therefore possible that acute idiopathic hearing loss and myocardial infarction share common pathomechanisms. This is also supported by a recent study in which the data of 44,830 Taiwanese health insurers with newly diagnosed acute hearing loss were evaluated (Laryngoscope 2013, online July 8).

In the three to nine years after the event, they suffered a heart attack significantly more frequently than control persons of the same age: 19.27 compared to 13.87 heart attacks occurred per 1000 person-years.

Taking comorbidities and other influencing factors into account, acute hearing loss patients thus had a 25 percent higher risk of heart attack (adjusted hazard ratio 1.254; p, 0.05).

The association between sudden hearing loss and myocardial infarction was particularly clear in older patients: in the age group of 50-64 the incidence of infarcts was 62 percent higher and in the group over 64 it was 28 percent higher than in comparison subjects of the same age (p = 0.0064 and 0.0001).

"Our results suggest that acute idiopathic hearing loss can be an early indicator of an impending heart attack," conclude the study authors headed by Charlene Lin from the University of Berkeley.

This knowledge should prompt doctors to pay more attention to cardiac risks after a sudden hearing loss. When it comes to prevention, however, it should be taken into account that 60 percent of heart attacks occurred later than a year after the sudden hearing loss. (BS)