Hearing Intervention May Have Effect on Cognitive Change

No effect seen in total cohort composed of two populations, but sensitivity analysis revealed effect of intervention in cohort at higher risk for cognitive decline
Hearing aid in ear
Hearing aid in earAdobe Stock
Medically Reviewed By:
Meeta Shah, M.D.

THURSDAY, July 20, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- A hearing intervention did not reduce three-year cognitive decline in a total cohort composed of two populations, but the intervention protected against cognitive decline in a population of older adults at greater risk for dementia, according to a study published online July 17 in The Lancet to coincide with the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in Amsterdam.

Frank R. Lin, M.D., from the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial of adults aged 70 to 84 years with untreated hearing loss and without substantial cognitive impairment. Participants were recruited from two study populations: older adult participants in an Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, who had more risk factors for cognitive decline and lower cognition scores at baseline, and healthy de novo volunteers. Participants were randomly assigned to a hearing intervention (audiological counseling and provision of hearing aids) or a control intervention of health education (490 and 487 individuals, respectively).

The researchers found that in the primary analysis combining the ARIC and de novo cohorts, three-year cognitive change did not differ significantly between the groups (−0.200 and −0.202 in the hearing intervention and control groups, respectively). A significant difference was seen in the effect of the hearing intervention on three-year cognitive change between the ARIC and de novo cohorts in a prespecified sensitivity analysis (three-year cognitive change in the ARIC cohort, –0.213 and –0.151 standard deviation units in the intervention and control groups, respectively). The results were not altered in other prespecified sensitivity analyses that varied analytical parameters used in the total cohort.

"Hearing loss might be a particularly important global public health target for dementia prevention efforts given that hearing loss is highly prevalent among older adults and is treatable with an established intervention," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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