Sudden Hearing Loss with Vertigo Portends Greater Stroke Risk Than Sudden Hearing Loss or Vertigo Alone

Tzu Pu Chang, Zheyu Wang, Ariel A. Winnick, Hsun Yang Chuang, Victor C. Urrutia, John P. Carey, David E. Newman-Toker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Because it is unknown whether sudden hearing loss (SHL) in acute vertigo is a “benign” sign (reflecting ear disease) or a “dangerous” sign (reflecting stroke), we sought to compare long-term stroke risk among patients with (1) “SHL with vertigo,” (2) “SHL alone,” and (3) “vertigo alone” using a large national health-care database. Methods Patients with first-incident SHL (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Edition, Clinical Modification [ICD-9-CM] 388.2) or vertigo (ICD-9-CM 386.x, 780.4) were identified from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan (2002-2009). We defined SHL with vertigo as a vertigo-related diagnosis ±30 days from the index SHL event. SHL without a temporally proximate vertigo diagnosis was considered SHL alone. The vertigo-alone group had no SHL diagnosis. All the patients were followed up until stroke, death, withdrawal from the database, or current end of the database (December 31, 2012) for a minimum period of 3 years. The hazards of stroke were compared across groups. Results We studied 218,656 patients (678 SHL with vertigo, 1998 with SHL alone, and 215,980 with vertigo alone). Stroke rates at study end were 5.5% (SHL with vertigo), 3.0% (SHL alone), and 3.9% (vertigo alone). Stroke hazards were higher in SHL with vertigo than in SHL alone (hazard ratio [HR], 1.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.28-2.91) and in vertigo alone (HR, 1.63; 95% CI, 1.18-2.25). Defining a narrower window between SHL and vertigo (±3 days) increased the hazards. Conclusions The combination of SHL plus vertigo in close temporal proximity is associated with increased subsequent stroke risk over SHL alone and vertigo alone. This suggests that SHL in patients with vertigo is not necessarily a benign peripheral vestibular sign.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Sudden hearing loss
  • diagnosis
  • dizziness
  • vertebrobasilar stroke
  • vertigo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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