Ariana M. Stickel, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar Department of Neurosciences University of California, San Diego

Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia Risk in Hispanic Communities Interview with:

Ariana M. Stickel, Ph.D. Postdoctoral Scholar Department of Neurosciences University of California, San Diego

Dr. Stickel

Ariana M. Stickel, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Scholar
Department of Neurosciences
University of California, San Diego What is the background for this study?

Response: Latinos are projected to have the largest increase in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia in the coming years, yet we know so little about important risk factors for dementia amongst Latinos.

As there has been too little widespread research on diverse Latinos and dementia until recently, we examined the individual and combined relationships of two important risk factors for dementia –hearing impairment and cardiovascular disease risk–in over 9,000 Latinos 45 – 74 years old.

Diverse Latinos participated in the study, including Central Americans, Cubans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and South Americans residing in the Bronx, NY; Chicago, IL; Miami, FL and San Diego, CA. It is important to study a wide range of Latinos in order to appropriately reflect the diversity of this population.

Each participant underwent extensive cardiovascular and diabetes testing, hearing examinations, and cognitive assessments. What are the main findings? 

Response: We found that hearing impairment and high cardiovascular disease risk were each associated with poorer cognition. Additionally, for Latinos with high blood sugar, hearing impairment was associated with especially poor learning and memory. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Both poor cardiovascular health and hearing impairment can be managed, and if managed effectively, could reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s disease (see Lancet report). Take care of your cardiovascular health through healthy diet, physical activity, and/or medications in order to protect your heart and your mind.

Additionally, wear ear plugs in noisy environments to protect yourself from hearing loss. Of course, speak to your healthcare providers about if you notice hearing loss and ask if hearing aids are right for you. There is research that shows that addressing hearing loss and improving cardiovascular health and can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Modern hearing aids are more comfortable and non-intrusive than hearing aids of an earlier era. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Future research should examine if the brain is impacted by hearing loss and memory loss. Secondly, studies of Alzheimer’s disease prevention through healthy lifestyles (e.g., hearing aid use and exercise) are needed to disrupt the alarmingly high projected increases of Alzheimer’s disease among Latinos.


You can find the original article at:

Lead author: Ariana M. Stickel, Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego

Co-authors include: Wassim Tarraf and Raymond P. Viviano, Wayne State University; Kathleen E. Bainbridge, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders; Martha Daviglus, University of Illinois at Chicago; Sumitrajit Dhar, Northwestern University; and Franklyn Gonzalez II, Donglin Zeng, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and Hector M. González, University of California, San Diego.

Funding for this research came, in part, from the National Institute on Aging (grants R01-AG048642, RF1 AG054548, RF1 AG061022, P30AG062429, P30AG059299) and the National Heart Lung Blood Institute (N01-HC65233, N01-HC65234, N01-HC65235, N01-HC65236, N01-HC65237).

Stickel AM, Tarraf W, Bainbridge KE, et al. Hearing Sensitivity, Cardiovascular Risk, and Neurocognitive Function: The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos (HCHS/SOL). JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online December 17, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2020.4835

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Last Updated on December 23, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD