17 Dec 2015

Slowing down age-related hearing loss

By Dr Jodie Abramovitch

Loss of hearing associated with age is a leading cause of disability amongst older people. Low level inflammation may damage blood vessels within the ear, leading to hearing loss. Furthermore, hearing loss may be associated with blood vessel damage within the eye, as well as loss of cognitive function. This suggests that there may be a common underlying inflammatory cause for each of these age-related conditions.

Can aspirin reduce age-related
hearing loss? 
Aspirin is a commonly used anti-inflammatory medication. It has a known role in helping treat blood vessel diseases and can inhibit the formation of blood clots.

Monash researchers from the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SPHPM) are involved in a new study called ASPREE-HEARING. This study will assess the effect of aspirin on hearing levels in patients aged 70 years and older who are involved in the ASPirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) clinical trial.

Patients will be given either aspirin or a placebo treatment over a three year period and have their hearing measured over this time. The blood vessels within their eyes and cognitive ability will also be monitored.

The results from this study will ultimately lead to a better understanding of whether these different age-related diseases are connected and whether or not aspirin can be used to slow the progression of age-related hearing loss.

Reference: Lowthian JABritt CJRance GLin FRWoods RLWolfe RNelson MRDillon HAWard SReid CMLockery JENguyen TTMcNeil JJStorey E. Slowing the progression of age-related hearing loss: Rationale and study design of the ASPIRIN in HEARING, retinal vessels imaging and neurocognition in older generations (ASPREE-HEARING) trial. Contemp Clin Trials. 2015 Nov: 46; 60-66
doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2015.11.014
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