Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Deafness and Dementia May Be Linked

By Michael Smith, North American Correspondent, MedPage Today

Hearing loss appears to be associated with an increased risk of developing dementia, researchers reported.

In a prospective analysis of more than 600 people free of cognitive decline, the risk of all-cause dementia rose 27% for every 10-decibel loss of hearing at the start of the almost 12-year study, according to Frank Lin, MD, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and colleagues.

The risk of Alzheimer's rose in a similar fashion, but did not reach statistical significance, Lin and co-authors reported in the February issue of Archives of Neurology.

The findings support the notion that the social isolation caused by deafness may be part of the cause of dementia, Lin and colleagues argued -- especially since the association was only seen for deafness above the level at which verbal communication is impaired.
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