Study finds hearing aids reduce risk of dementia

What the researchers say they found during the study suggests that up to 8 percent of dementia cases can be prevented with “the right treatment for hearing loss.”

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — A new study suggests that if you have hearing loss, wearing hearing aids may actually reduce your risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

A study published in The Lancet back in April, but now garnering national attention, looked at the correlation between hearing aid use and the risk of “all-cause-specific” dementia among middle-aged and older adults.

What the researchers say they found during the study suggests that up to 8 percent of cases of dementia can be prevented with “the right treatment for hearing loss,” specifically hearing aids. Because of this, the researchers say these findings “could have important clinical and public health implications.”

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According to the World Health Organization, more than 55 million people worldwide have dementia. And every year there are almost 10 million new cases.

If this study is correct in that up to 8 percent of cases are preventable, then it prevents dementia in about 800,000 people a year worldwide.

The researchers say these results “highlight the urgent need for action to address hearing loss to improve cognitive decline” in older adults.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, here in America one in three elderly people die from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia, which kills more people than breast and prostate cancer combined.

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If further research confirms that hearing aid use may reduce the risk of dementia in people with hearing loss, the scientists say that hearing aids “may represent a minimally invasive and cost-effective intervention to mitigate all or at least some of the impact of hearing loss on dementia.” You can read the full study here.

Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration fully approved the intravenous drug Lekambi for people with mild dementia and other symptoms caused by early Alzheimer’s disease. This allows Medicare and other insurance plans to start covering the treatment.

Lekambi is the first drug that has been convincingly shown to moderately slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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