A cohort study of 573,088 people from Southern Denmark found an increased risk of dementia in those who experience hearing loss. ScienceDaily reported on the new study that tracked people from 2003 to 2017. Those who already had dementia at the onset of the study were excluded from the research.
It has long been suspected that people who are socially isolated due to hearing loss have a heightened risk of dementia because they cannot easily participate in conversations. However, the link of dementia to hearing loss was something else that sounds implausible.
People who are hard of hearing spend more energy listening. That energy comes at the expense of other cognitive functions. Cognitive functions are the mental processes in the brain that enable us to think and solve problems, among other things.
The results of the study show that people affected by hearing loss have up to a 13% higher risk of developing dementia compared to people with normal hearing.
The high risk is especially seen in people with severe hearing loss.
So they’re saying if I listen too hard I can’t think at the same time and my brain gets weaker over time? I hope the reporter interpreted this finding wrong.
Dementia is rising worldwide due to population growth and an aging population. Put simply, if you don’t die of heart disease by age 65, you have greater chance of suffering from age-related health conditions like dementia. Wearing a hearing aid is thought to mitigate part of the dementia risk.
“We found that the risk of developing dementia was 20% higher for people who didn’t wear hearing aids compared to people with normal hearing. People who used hearing aids had a 6% increased risk of developing dementia. This suggests that wearing a hearing aid can prevent or delay the development of dementia,” explains Manuella Lech Cantuaria.
While I am writing about dementia, I thought I would add some additional risk factors. According to Stanford Health Care: Age is one of the biggest risk factors. Family history and genetics can elevate the risk, but it is not so causal that if you have a family member with dementia you are destined to have it as well. Excessive alcohol use and smoking are risk factors, as are high cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Homocysteine in the blood (an amino acid) is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Diabetes is as well.
Most of the risk factors I mentioned are more prevalent among the poor. Put another way, poverty is a major risk factor for developing dementia. According to Harvard Health some important things you can do to avoid Alzheimer’s and dementia is physical exercise, eat right and get enough sleep.
I read an interesting fact while writing this: Researchers analyzed existing drugs to test them for their therapeutic use against Alzheimer’s Disease (a common type of dementia).
The team identified 66 drugs with the closest relationships to AD-associated genes. Many are already being tested in ongoing AD clinical trials, proving the soundness of the approach. After considering other factors, the top candidate was sildenafil, also known by the brand names Viagra and Revatio. Sildenafil is FDA-approved to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension.
Next, the team analyzed insurance claims data from more than 7 million Americans. They found that the people (mostly men) who took sildenafil were 69% less likely to develop AD over 6 years than those who did not take the drug. This association between sildenafil and AD held after adjusting for sex, age, and other diseases and conditions.
I was about to suggest that men who took Viagra were more likely to be healthier than those who did not, but the researchers controlled for that. There are also a variety of new drugs approved for Alzheimer’s that are expensive, do not work very well and are extremely expensive. Your best bet (besides taking Viagra) is to keep physically active, eat right and watch your weight. Also, put down the wine glass after only one drink. Oh, and get a hearing aid if you find yourself continually asking people to repeat themselves.