Hearing Loss Linked to Dementia
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – The presence of dementia is believed to double every 20 years due to the world’s aging population, making it important to identify the factors that lead to cognitive decline and dementia in older adults. A new study shows that hearing loss appears to be associated with accelerated cognitive decline.
The study enrolled 1,984 older adults with an average age of 77 in an observational study that began in 1997-1998. A total of 1,162 patients with baseline hearing loss had annual rates of decline in test scores that measured global and executive function that were 41% and 32% greater than those among individuals with normal hearing.
Compared to patients with normal hearing, individuals with hearing loss at baseline had a 24% increased risk for incident cognitive impairment.
"Our results demonstrate that hearing loss is independently associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in community-dwelling older adults. The magnitude of these associations is clinically significant, with individuals having hearing loss demonstrating a 30 percent to 40 percent accelerated rate of cognitive decline and a 24 percent increased risk for incident cognitive impairment during a six-year period compared with individuals having normal hearing,” Frank Lin, MD, PhD, at the Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health, Baltimore, and authors were quoted as saying.
On average, individuals with hearing loss would require 7.7 years to decline five points on the Modified Mini- Mental State Examination, a commonly accepted level of change indicative of cognitive impairment (3MS) compared to 10.9 years in patients with normal hearing.
"In conclusion, our results suggest that hearing loss is associated with accelerated cognitive decline and incident cognitive impairment in older adults. Further research is needed to investigate what the mechanistic basis of this observed association is and whether such pathways would be amendable to hearing rehabilitative interventions," Dr. Lin and authors concluded.
SOURCE: JAMA Internal Medicine, January 2013