Poor hearing a signal for dementia

OLDER adults with hearing loss may be up to five times more likely to develop dementia than patients with normal hearing, researchers have found.

In a prospective study of 639 people aged 36–90 years, researchers found an independent association between hearing loss and development of the disease over 12 years.

The risk became evident with hearing loss >25 dB and increased as hearing impairment worsened, after controlling for age, race, diabetes, smoking, hypertension and other risk factors, they said.

The hazard ratio for dementia among people with mild hearing loss was 1.89; moderate hearing loss, 3.00; and severe hearing loss, 4.94.

Among people older than 60 years, the attributable risk of dementia associated with hearing loss could be about 36%, the researchers estimated.

“Whether hearing loss is a marker for early-stage dementia or is actually a modifiable risk factor for dementia deserves further study,