Heart Disease and Hearing Loss

Why your heart and ears have a stronger connection than you realize.
Last update on Mar, 01, 2024

Heart disease and hearing loss seem like two unrelated issues, but over six decades of research suggest a strong heart and ear connection that might surprise you.

Here's What We Know

Your inner ear is a delicate and complex system that relies on a steady supply of oxygen and nutrients to function properly.

When blood flow to the inner ear is restricted, it can cause damage to the delicate hair cells responsible for transmitting sound signals to the brain, resulting in hearing loss

African american ear

About the Inner Ear

Your inner ear converts sound waves into electrical signals that the brain interprets.

It consists of several structures, including:

  • Hair cells
  • Blood supply (basilar artery)
  • The VIII nerve (the cranial nerve responsible for hearing)

Each of which plays a critical role in hearing.

What Restricts Blood Flow to Inner Ear?

Blood carries oxygen, nutrients, and other vital substances to the organs and tissues that need them. Without it, these organs and tissues can become damaged or stop functioning altogether.

Since the heart ensures that blood is circulated efficiently and effectively throughout the body, damage to this essential organ can spell trouble for the rest of your body, including your hearing health.

For example, because the blood supply to the inner ear is a tiny artery, any change in blood flow would have a significant impact on your hearing health.

How Can Heart Problems Affect Your Ears?

Restricted Blood Flow

One possible culprit behind reduced blood flow to the inner ear is atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular disease (CVD) in which plaque builds up in the arteries and restricts blood flow. Studies have shown that atherosclerosis may increase your risk of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSNHL).

As a result, you may experience hearing loss, tinnitus (i.e., ear ringing), or other auditory issues. 

More Findings

In a cohort study that examined the relationship between cardiovascular disease and hearing loss among individuals aged 80 years or older, coronary artery disease emerged as the most influential factor in terms of its correlation with audiometric thresholds.

The condition was associated with hearing loss at all frequencies, indicating that it may harm an individual's hearing abilities across the board.

More recent findings have shown that people at high risk of developing CVD are more likely to experience hearing loss than those at low risk. 

Heart Disease and Tinnitus: Is There A Connection?

Some evidence suggests a potential link between heart disease and tinnitus. We mentioned atherosclerosis earlier, a CVD that clogs arteries and restricts blood flow to the inner ear.

Atherosclerosis may also be a risk factor for Pulsatile tinnitus, a rare but serious type of tinnitus that is typically described as a rhythmic sound that matches the beat of the person's heart.

The phenomenon is often caused by a blood vessel or vascular problem near the ear, which can create a pulsing or whooshing sound that is synchronized with the heartbeat.

High blood pressure may also trigger pulsatile tinnitus symptoms, and certain medications used to treat heart conditions may also contribute to developing tinnitus as a side effect.

It's important to note that if you or a loved one experiences pulsatile tinnitus, seek medical evaluation immediately. There may be a serious arteriovenous malformation, which could be fatal.

How to Improve Your Heart and Ear Connection?

Working with your provider and pursuing a healthier cardiovascular lifestyle may positively affect your whole body wellness, including your hearing.

Revisit Your Diet

3 generations baking
Proper diet is essential for improving heart health because it helps maintain healthy blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall heart function. 

What to Eat

To improve heart health, your provider may recommend eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and herring as they help to reduce blood pressure and prevent plaque buildup.

Foods that are high in fiber such as beans, lentils, and whole grains can also help improve heart health by reducing cholesterol levels.

Fun fact: Many of the foods that can support heart health are also great for hearing. Learn more.

What to Avoid

Avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars as they can increase the risk of heart disease.

Processed foods, fried foods, sugary drinks, and high-calorie snacks are other examples of foods that should be avoided.

Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to develop a personalized diet plan that suits your specific needs and health goals.

Limit Salt

Processed foods are often high in preservatives, salt, and sugar, which can be harmful to our health in the long run. So, opt for home-cooked meals that are healthier and more wholesome.

To make your meals more flavorful, experiment with a variety of herbs and spices such as basil, thyme, rosemary, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, just to name a few.

Not only will this enhance the taste of your food, but it will also provide various health benefits and make your meals more enjoyable.

Quit Smoking

We can all say with confidence that there are zero benefits to smoking. So if you haven't quit, now is the time to do so.

Smoking is a significant risk factor for heart disease, and studies have shown that quitting smoking can substantially reduce the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. By quitting smoking, you can improve your heart health and reduce the likelihood of developing serious health complications down the road.

A recent study suggests that smoking cessation also may reduce the increased risk of hearing loss associated with smoking.

Reduce Stress

There are several ways to reduce stress and improve heart health, including:

  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga.
  • Get enough sleep and establish a regular sleep routine.
  • Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or cycling.
  • Spend time with loved ones and engage in social activities.
  • Set realistic goals and prioritize tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Avoid overcommitting and learn to say "no" when necessary.
  • Take breaks throughout the day and engage in activities you enjoy.
  • Take time for self-care, such as taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to music.

Increase Exercise

Couple hiking
Did you know taking a brisk walk for at least 30 minutes every day can significantly improve your overall health and reduce stress levels?

Protect Your Ears


In order to protect your ears from potential damage caused by loud noises, try to carry a pair of earplugs with you at all times. Doing so will prepare you for unexpected situations where you may be exposed to high decibel levels.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Remember to also turn down the volume on headphones, speakers, and other electronic devices, as excessive noise can be detrimental to your hearing.
  • If you find yourself in a particularly loud environment, move away from the source of the noise in order to reduce the risk of hearing damage. 

Know Your Numbers

Keep a record of your blood pressure, blood glucose levels, BMI, HDL, and total cholesterol to monitor your overall health. Work closely with your healthcare team to ensure you're hitting your numbers.

Prioritize Your Heart and Ear Connection

Couple hugging

To ensure you're taking care of your hearing and heart health, be sure to schedule regular visits with a hearing care provider.

During these visits, your provider will help you keep track of your hearing health, identify any issues early on, and receive necessary treatment.

To get started, check your benefits now! Our team will help you understand your coverage options and connect you with a hearing care provider in your community.

Check your benefits

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