Hearing loss linked to dementia in the elderly

Summary: Older adults with more severe hearing loss are more likely to have dementia, but the likelihood of developing dementia was lower for those who use hearing aids.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

A new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that older people with more severe hearing loss were more likely to have dementia, but the likelihood of dementia was lower among users. of hearing aids than among non-users.

The findings, from a nationally representative sample of more than 2,400 older adults, are consistent with previous studies showing that hearing loss may be a contributing factor to dementia risk over time, and that treating the loss hearing may reduce the risk of dementia.

The findings are highlighted in a research letter published online Jan. 10 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“This study refines what we have observed about the link between hearing loss and dementia, and strengthens support for public health action to improve access to hearing care,” says lead author Alison Huang, PhD. , MPH, senior research associate at the Bloomberg School. Department of Epidemiology and at the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, also at the Bloomberg School.

Hearing loss is a critical public health issue affecting two-thirds of Americans over the age of 70. The growing understanding that hearing loss may be linked to the risk of dementia, which affects millions of people, and other adverse effects has drawn attention to the implementation of possible strategies to treat hearing. loss.

For the new study, Huang and his colleagues analyzed a nationally representative dataset from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS). Funded by the National Institute on Aging, the NHATS has been running since 2011 and uses a national sample of Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 65, with a focus on the 90-and-older group as well as blacks.

The analysis involved 2,413 people, around half of whom were over 80, and showed a clear association between the severity of hearing loss and dementia. The prevalence of dementia among participants with moderate/severe hearing loss was 61% higher than the prevalence among participants with normal hearing. Hearing aid use was associated with a 32% lower prevalence of dementia among the 853 participants with moderate/severe hearing loss.

This shows an older man with a hearing aid
Hearing loss is a critical public health issue affecting two-thirds of Americans over the age of 70. Image is in public domain

The authors note that many previous studies were limited in that they relied on clinic-based data collection, leaving out vulnerable populations who did not have the means or ability to travel to a clinic. For their study, the researchers collected data from participants through tests and home interviews.

The link between hearing loss and dementia is not yet clear, and studies point to several possible mechanisms. Huang’s research adds to a body of work from the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health examining the relationship between hearing loss and dementia.

The study authors expect to get a more complete picture of the effect of hearing loss treatment on cognition and dementia from their Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) study. The results of the three-year randomized trial are expected this year.

“Hearing Loss and Dementia Prevalence Among Older Adults in the United States” was co-authored by Alison Huang, Kening Jiang, Frank Lin, Jennifer Deal, and Nicholas Reed.

Funding: Research support was provided by the National Institute on Aging (K23AG065443, K01AG054693).

Disclosures reported by co-authors: Nicholas Reed, AuD, serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Neosensory. Frank Lin, MD, PhD, is a consultant for Frequency Therapeutics and Apple and director of a research center funded in part by a philanthropic gift from Cochlear Ltd at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Lin is also a board member of the nonprofit Access HEARS.

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About this news about hearing loss and dementia research

Author: Barbara Benham
Source: Johns Hopkins University
Contact: Barbara Benham – Johns Hopkins University
Picture: Image is in public domain

Original research: Access closed.
“Hearing loss and dementia prevalence among older adults in the United States” by Alison Huang et al. JAMA


Summary

Hearing loss and dementia prevalence among older adults in the United States

Hearing loss accounts for 8% of dementia cases worldwide, making it the largest modifiable risk factor for dementia at the population level. However, there are few nationally representative estimates of the association between hearing loss and dementia in older adults in the United States.

Previous estimates were vulnerable to selection bias and typically used self-reported data, which may underestimate hearing and dementia and not reflect the true association nationwide. Additionally, the use of hearing aids may potentially reduce the risk of dementia in older people with hearing loss, but the evidence is limited and mixed.

We estimated the cross-sectional association of audiometric hearing loss and hearing aid use with dementia in community-dwelling older adults using a nationally representative dataset of recipients. of Medicare in the United States.

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