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Hearing Impairment and Dual Sensory Impairment are Associated with Increased Mortality in Older Men

September 10, 2013

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), working with researchers in Iceland, have found that hearing impairment and dual sensory impairment (vision and hearing impairment combined) in older men are associated with increased mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and other causes. The research, published in the August 30th online edition of Age and Ageing, demonstrates the potential importance of hearing loss, especially among men, in predicting mortality.

The study found that women who were hearing impaired had only slightly higher rates of mortality than women without any sensory impairment.

The researchers also observed that men and women who used hearing aids had significantly lower mortality risk compared with hearing impaired men and women who did not use hearing aids. This reduced risk occurred despite increased age and more severe hearing loss in the hearing aid group.

For men or women who had vision impairment alone, there was no increased risk of mortality.

The study population consisted of 4,926 Icelandic individuals, ages 67 and over, who received vision and hearing examinations between 2002 and 2006 and were followed prospectively for mortality through 2009.

Diana Fisher of the National Eye Institute is the paper’s lead author. The other NIH researchers are from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders and from the National Institute on Aging.