INTRODUCTION: Risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) are associated with sensorineural hearing loss. CVD risk factors are known to cluster and interact, thereby increasing the cumulative risk for CVD. Previously, using the database of the Netherlands Longitudinal Study on Hearing (NL-SH), an association was found between a history of smoking and an increased decline in speech recognition in noise over 10 years of follow-up. Prospectively limited data are available on the association between CVD risk factors, interactions of these risk factors, and hearing loss. In this study, data from the NL-SH were used to study the association between CVD risk factors and speech recognition in noise longitudinally.
METHODS: Baseline, 5-year, and 10-year follow-up data of the NL-SH were included. The NL-SH is a web-based prospective cohort study which started in 2006. Participants were aged 18-70 years at baseline. Speech recognition in noise was determined with an online digit-triplet speech-in-noise test. In addition, participants completed online questionnaires on demographic, lifestyle, and health-related characteristics. The association of the ability to recognize speech in noise with CVD risk factors (i.e., obesity, rheumatoid arthritis [RA], hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia) was analyzed longitudinally. We also analyzed the interaction between these risk factors (including age, sex, and history of smoking) and speech recognition in noise.
RESULTS: None of the CVD risk factors or interactions of 2 CVD risk factors was significantly associated with a decline in SRT over time. Obesity (p = 0.016), RA (p = 0.027), and hypertension (p = 0.044) were associated with overall higher (more unfavorable) SRTs. No overall interactions between CVD risk factors were found.
CONCLUSION: Obesity, RA, and hypertension were overall associated with a higher SRT, but no longitudinal associations between these or other CVD factors with SRTs were found. Also, no interactions between 2 CVD risk factors and SRTs were found. Although no longitudinal associations between CVD risk factors and decline in SRTs were found, clinicians should be alert about the concurrent association between CVD risk factors and hearing loss.