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Hearing Loss Associated With Cognitive Decline

Age-related hearing loss occurs gradually in most of us as we grow older and is one of the most common conditions affecting mature adults. A new study has found that hearing loss may be associated with a up to a 54% higher risk of cognitive decline.

The researchers looked at data for 10,107 men with an average age of 62 who participated in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. Subjective cognitive function was assessed based on responses to a six-item questionnaire that was given in 2008, 2012, and 2016. Participants were excluded from the study if they reported one or more cognitive concerns on the 2008 questionnaire. Hearing loss was assessed using a questionnaire in 2006.

Compared with men with no hearing loss, the relative risk of cognitive decline was 30% higher in men with mild hearing loss.  In men with moderate hearing loss, the risk rose to 42%, and in men with severe hearing loss it rose to 54%.

The researchers also looked at whether hearing aids would affect cognitive decline risk.  They found that cognitive decline risk decreased to 37% in men with severe hearing loss who used hearing aids, but it was not a statistically significant difference.

Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print January 29, 2019, inAlzheimer's & Dementia.
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