Hearing aids may reduce risk of cognitive decline and dementia, study finds

Hearing aids may reduce risk of cognitive decline and dementia, study finds


Hearing aids may be an important tool in the effort to prevent cognitive decline and dementia, according to a new study.

Research has shown that hearing loss is an important risk factor for developing dementia, but it is less clear whether intervention with hearing loss will also treat the progression of cognitive decline, said senior study author Woei Shyang Loh, head of otolaryngology at the National University. Hospital and National University of Singapore.

The new study was published Monday in JAMA Neurology offers evidence that managing hearing loss can potentially help reduce or delay cognitive decline, Loh said.

Through a meta-analysis of 3,243 studies, both observational and experimental, the research looked at the association between hearing loss and cognitive decline over a duration ranging from two to 25 years. The review found that people with hearing loss who wore assistive devices performed 3% better on short-term cognitive outcomes, according to the study.

Hearing aid use was associated with a 19% reduction in long-term cognitive decline, the study found. When it comes to cognitive decline, it is important to prevent progression, the authors of the study pointed out.

“Dementia is far easier to prevent than to treat, and very difficult to reverse,” said senior study author Dr. Benjamin Tan, associate dean at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore.

Hearing loss, although a major risk factor for cognitive decline, is fairly easy to correct in developed countries, said Dr. Thomas Holland, a physician scientist at the Rush Institute for Health Aging. The Netherlands was not included in the research.

“Get screened for hearing loss, and if you have hearing loss, talk to your audiologist or ENT doctor to ensure appropriate and optimal correction to prevent potential risk of dementia and cognitive decline,” Holland said.

The researchers said the next question to examine is whether the severity of hearing loss changes the effectiveness of interventions when it comes to preventing cognitive decline.

But in the meantime, people with hearing loss should talk to their doctor about whether it’s appropriate to use hearing aids, Tan said.

And it’s never too early to intervene, he added, saying the new study shows the benefits accumulate over time.

“Therefore, affected patients should start treatment now if they want to see benefits in a few years,” Tan said.

But using these devices can even benefit those who have begun to show cognitive decline, and according to new research, patients can still see benefits even if they didn’t add hearing aids early on, he added.

“Encouragingly, even patients who already started with mild cognitive impairment (“early dementia”) in our pooled analysis also benefited from the use of hearing aids, as they also had an approximately 20% lower risk of progression to dementia,” he said. is Tan via email. . “This means it’s never too late to start using hearing aids, but early treatment can help preserve the most cognitive ability.”

However, hearing aids are not the only way to prevent cognitive decline, and a well-rounded, preventative approach is important, Holland said.

“Along with a hearing screening by an audiologist or physician, work to implement healthy lifestyle modifications that have been shown to slow or reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia,” he said.

These include a healthy eating pattern such as the MIND diet, which aims to prevent Alzheimer’s disease or Mediterranean diet, Holland said. Moderate to vigorous physical activity, an active social life, good sleep and stress reduction are also included.

Holland recommends seeing your primary care physician once a year for medical evaluations to properly control your blood sugar and blood pressure, which are important for brain health.

And cognitively stimulating activities, such as visiting museums, reading books or taking up new hobbies, are also important to incorporate into your life, Holland said.

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