Study finds hearing aids can reduce risk of cognitive decline and dementia


A new study shows that hearing aids can be an important tool in efforts to prevent cognitive decline and dementia.

The study’s lead author, Woei Shyang Loh, director of the department of otolaryngology at National University, said research has established that hearing loss is an important risk factor for dementia, but whether an intervention for hearing loss would also treat the progression of cognitive decline was less clear. . National University and Hospital of Singapore.

The new study was published Monday in JAMA Neurology. This provides evidence that managing hearing loss can help reduce or delay cognitive decline, Lu said.

A meta-analysis of 3,243 studies, both observational and experimental, examined the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline over periods ranging from 2 to 25 years. The review found that people with hearing loss who wore assistive devices performed 3% better on short-term cognitive outcomes, according to the study.

The study found that hearing aid use was associated with a 19% reduction in long-term cognitive decline. The study authors note that when it comes to cognitive decline, preventing progression is important.

“Dementia is much easier to prevent than to treat, and very difficult to reverse,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Benjamin Tan, dean of the University’s Yong Lo Lin School of Medicine. national of Singapore.

Hearing loss, although an important risk factor for cognitive decline, is easily corrected in developed countries, said Dr. Thomas Holland, a scientist at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging. The Netherlands did not participate in the research.

“Enjoy hearing loss screening, and if you have hearing loss, speak to an audiologist or otolaryngologist to ensure proper and optimal correction to avoid potential risks of dementia and decline cognitive,” Holland said.

The researchers said the next question to consider is whether the severity of hearing loss alters the effectiveness of interventions when it comes to preventing cognitive decline.

In the meantime, people with hearing loss should ask their doctor if it’s appropriate to use hearing aids, Tan said.

It’s never too early to get involved, he added, saying the new study shows the benefits add up over time.

“Therefore, affected patients need to start treatment now, if they want to see benefits in a few years,” Tan said.

He added that using these devices can benefit those who have started to show cognitive decline, and according to the new research, patients may still see a benefit even if they don’t add hearing aids right away. beginning.

“Encouragingly, even patients who already started with mild cognitive impairment (“dementia praecox”) in our pooled analysis also benefited from the use of hearing aids, as they also had a risk of developing near-dementia. 20% lower,” Tan said via email. “This means it’s never too late to start using hearing aids, but early treatment can help preserve most cognition. »

Hearing aids aren’t the only way to prevent cognitive decline, Holland said, and a comprehensive preventative approach is important.

“In addition to having your hearing checked by an audiologist or doctor, strive to implement healthy lifestyle changes that slow or reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s dementia,” he said. .

They include healthy eating like the MIND diet, which aims to prevent Alzheimer’s disease mediterranean dietsaid Holland. Also includes moderate to vigorous physical activity, an active social life, good sleep, and stress reduction.

Holland recommends seeing your primary care physician once a year for medical evaluations to properly control your blood sugar and blood pressure, which are important for brain health.

Cognitively stimulating activities, such as visiting museums, reading books or starting new hobbies, are also important for functioning in your life, Holland said.

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