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Posted: July 08, 2008

Hearing Loss May Be Stroke Predictor

Chinese medical researchers say a sudden loss of hearing can be an early warning sign of impending stroke.

 

Researchers from Taipei Medical University, led by Dr. Herng-Ching Lin, linked hearing loss and stroke in a study that tracked more than 1,400 adults hospitalized in 1998 with sudden hearing loss, who also were found to suffer significantly more often than average from high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and high cholesterol. The team also used a control group with these three conditions to compare to the hearing loss subjects.

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Over a five-year tracking period, 180 hearing-loss patients (13%) and 441 control patients (8%) suffered a stroke. The incidence of stroke was 1.64 times greater among the hearing loss group, when the findings were adjusted for gender, income, location (urban or rural), and other conditions that could impact stroke.

 

Timing of hearing loss and the occurrence of stroke also was key, the researchers found. Among patients with hearing loss, 12% of strokes occurred within three months of suddenly losing hearing, 31% took place in the first year, and 51% happened by the end of the second year.

 

As a result of the study, which appears online in the medical journal Stroke, Lin recommends that people who experience a sudden loss of hearing, especially the elderly or those with other vascular conditions, schedule a thorough health evaluation with their doctor. In addition, follow-on medical exams should take place, Lin said, because a high percentage of the strokes in his research didn’t occur until up to two years after hearing loss first occurred.

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