Further data on the link between age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline or dementia

Further data on the link between age-related hearing loss and cognitive decline or dementia

Cognitive decline

Elderly person
© Gilles Lougassi – Fotolia.com

Specialty clinical information website Healio.com recently reported on a meta-analysis of 40 studies with a total of over 34,000 participants that showed a small but significant association between hearing loss related to age and all domains of cognitive function.

The analysis was carried out by researchers working mainly in Ireland (Trinity College Dublin) and the findings were recently published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery. Until now, the various studies conducted in this area have yielded inconsistent results. This is why the team decided to perform a meta-analysis of available studies.

A targeted search of PubMed, the Cochrane Library, EMBASE, and SCOPUS was performed covering the period from inception to April 2016. Keywords used included hearing, cognition, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. The team chose to include cohort and cross-sectional studies published in peer-reviewed journals but excluded case-control studies.

“There were several observational studies looking at this association with cognitive decline but results were mixed with some studies reporting a significant association and others reporting either a small or non-significant association. There was also a study published that reported that hearing loss was associated with accelerated decline in brain volume,” David G. Loughery, lead author on the analysis, told Healio. “This meta-analysis was conducted to clarify whether there was a link in the epidemiological literature using an inclusion criterion to reduce bias.”

The team used pooled maximally adjusted effect sizes using random-effects models to assess the data and found a small but significant association between age-related hearing loss and all domains of cognitive function. Interestingly, among cross-sectional studies, a significant association was found for cognitive impairment and dementia. The authors conclude that age-related hearing loss may be a possible biomarker and modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline, cognitive impairment, and dementia.

Source: Healio.com; Loughrey DG, et al. Association of Age-Related Hearing Loss With Cognitive Function, Cognitive Impairment, and Dementia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery 2017 Dec 7.


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