MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
David Loughrey PhD
Atlantic Fellow for Equity in Brain Health
Global Brain Health Institute
DeafHear Research Partner
Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: The World Organisation (WHO) estimate that one-third of older adults aged 65 and over have a disabling hearing loss. Increasingly, research is finding that age-related hearing loss (ARHL) may be associated with other negative health outcomes, including dementia which currently affects 50 million people worldwide.
A study recently published in The Lancet reported that of nine possible modifiable risk factors, addressing age-related hearing loss (ARHL) could potentially lead to the largest reduction in the prevalence of dementia globally.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: Deal and colleagues have published a study in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery and their findings suggest that .age-related hearing loss is associated with multiple adverse health outcomes including dementia. They used administrative claims data to at a large cohort of 154, 414 adults aged 50 years in the United States across ten years. They found that hearing loss was associated with a greater risk of developing dementia, depression, accidental falls, non-vertebral fractures, acute myocardial infarction and stroke.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: This was one of the largest studies to examine the association of hearing loss with decline in health and the findings are informative for medical researchers and public health policy. It adds to an accumulating body of evidence suggesting that .age-related hearing loss may have implications for longer-term health.
However, the relationship between hearing loss and these health outcomes remains unclear and it is not clear what pathways may link them. Resolving this will have important implications for healthcare among older adults. The WHO reports that hearing loss is projected to increase due to noise exposure in recreational settings.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Clinical trials are needed to help understand better the underlying causal basis of age-related hearing loss with poorer health outcomes and if they are amenable to hearing rehabilitate therapies. Additionally, epidemiological research assessing how hearing loss may be linked with health through modifiable risk factors such as depression would be informative. Hearing loss is typically treated through hearing aids or cochlear implants. However, studies such as this one by Deal and colleagues suggests that broader therapeutic approaches may be required to assist rehabilitation after onset of hearing loss.
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