Carotid Atherosclerosis Is Associated With Poorer Hearing in Older Adults

Pauline H. Croll, Daniel Bos, Meike W. Vernooij, Banafsheh Arshi, Frank R. Lin, Robert J. Baatenburg de Jong, M. Arfan Ikram, André Goedegebure, Maryam Kavousi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Cardiovascular disease may be linked to hearing loss through narrowing of the nutrient arteries of the cochlea, but large-scale population-based evidence for this association remains scarce. We investigated the association of carotid atherosclerosis as a marker of generalized cardiovascular disease with hearing loss in a population-based cohort. Design: Cross-sectional. Setting: A population-based cohort study. Participants: 3724 participants [mean age: 65.5 years, standard deviation (SD): 7.5, 55.4% female]. Methods: Ultrasound and pure-tone audiograms to assess carotid atherosclerosis and hearing loss. Results: We investigated associations of carotid plaque burden and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) (overall and side-specific carotid atherosclerosis) with hearing loss (in the best hearing ear and side-specific hearing loss) using multivariable linear and ordinal regression models. We found that higher maximum IMT was related to poorer hearing in the best hearing ear [difference in decibel hearing level per 1-mm increase in IMT: 2.09 dB, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.08, 4.10]. Additionally, third and fourth quartile plaque burden as compared to first quartile was related to poorer hearing in the best hearing ear (difference: 1.06 dB, 95% CI: 0.04, 2.08; and difference: 1.55 dB, 95% CI: 0.49, 2.60, respectively). Larger IMT (difference: 2.97 dB, 95% CI: 0.79, 5.14), third quartile plaque burden compared to first quartile (difference: 1.24 dB, 95% CI: 0.14, 2.35), and fourth plaque quartile compared to first quartile (difference: 2.12 dB, 95% CI: 0.98, 3.26) in the right carotid were associated with poorer hearing in the right ear. Conclusions and Implications: Carotid atherosclerosis is associated with poorer hearing in older adults, almost exclusively with poorer hearing in the right ear. Based on our results, it seems that current therapies for the prevention of cardiovascular disease may also prove beneficial for hearing loss in older adults by promoting and maintaining inner ear health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1617-1622.e1
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Aging
  • carotid atherosclerosis
  • hearing loss
  • intima media thickness
  • plaque

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Health Policy
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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