advertisement
Updated 15 February 2013

Hearing loss tied to cognitive decline

Hearing loss appears to be associated with accelerated cognitive decline and cognitive impairment in a study of older adults.

0

Hearing loss appears to be associated with accelerated cognitive decline and cognitive impairment in a study of older adults, according to a report published Online First by JAMA Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication.

The prevalence of dementia is projected to double every 20 years because of the world's ageing population so identifying the factors and understanding the pathways that lead to cognitive decline and dementia in older adults is a public health priority, the authors write in the study background.

Frank R Lin, MD, PhD, of The Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, studied 1 984 older adults (average age about 77 years) enrolled in a prospective observational study that began in 1997-1998.

A total of 1 162 individuals with baseline hearing loss had annual rates of decline in test scores that measured global and executive function that were 41% and 32% greater, respectively, than those among individuals with normal hearing. Compared to those individuals with normal hearing, individuals with hearing loss at baseline had a 24% increased risk for incident cognitive impairment, according to the study results.

Results shown but further research needed

"Our results demonstrate that hearing loss is independently associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older adults," the authors comment.

"The magnitude of these associations is clinically significant, with individuals having hearing loss demonstrating a 30% to 40% accelerated rate of cognitive decline and a 24% increased risk for incident cognitive impairment during a six-year period compared with individuals having normal hearing."

The authors suggest that, on average, individuals with hearing loss would require 7.7 years to decline by five points on the 3MS (the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination, a commonly accepted level of change indicative of cognitive impairment) compared with 10.9 years in individuals with normal hearing.

"In conclusion, our results suggest that hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in older adults. Further research is needed to investigate what the mechanistic basis of this observed association is and whether such pathways would be amendable to hearing rehabilitative interventions," the study concludes.

(EurekAlert, January 2013)

Read More:

Painkillers linked to hearing loss in women

Diabetes linked to hearing loss

 
advertisement

Get a quote

advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Live healthier

Medical bills »

GP and money Cut medical bills Medical savings account

Medical scheme: what is a self-payment gap?

Have you exhausted your day-to-day benefits and moved into your self-payment gap? Here's what it means.

Allergy alert »

Allergy myths Cold or allergy? Children and allergies

Allergy facts vs. fiction

Some of the greatest allergy myths and misconceptions can actually be damaging to your health.