WASHINGTON, D.C. — Scientists have known for some time that addressing hearing loss can reduce a person’s chances of developing Alzheimer’s, but a recent study shows just how much.
According to the ACHIEVE study published in The Lancet, treating hearing loss in older adults who had more risk factors for cognitive decline slowed down loss of thinking and memory abilities by 48% over three years. The study’s findings were also presented by its author, Dr. Frank Lin of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Bloomberg School of Public Health, at the annual Alzheimer’s Assoc. International Conference.
One in three Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, according to the National Institutes of Health. Worldwide, mid- and late-life hearing loss is identified as the single largest potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia. The ACHIEVE study is the first randomized clinical trial to investigate whether treating hearing loss in older adults reduces the cognitive decline that can occur with aging.
Notably, the 48% cognitive-decline reduction cited in the study exceeds that of drugs currently on the market, meaning hearing aids provide an additional option for people with hearing loss who are at risk or in the early stages of dementia.
“Dementia is not a normal part of aging, and this first-of-its-kind study is further proof that there are actions people can take to reduce their risk,” said George Vradenburg, chair and co-founder of UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. “This is yet another step forward in our march to end Alzheimer’s, in addition to drugs. It can no longer be said that there is nothing we can do. Now we need to continue to ensure everyone has access to these interventions.”