Hearing Loss Linked to Cognitive Decline, Impairment

Medscape News
Jan 23, 2013

written by Pauline Anderson

Older adults with hearing loss have a rate of cognitive decline that is up to 40% faster than the rate in those with normal hearing, according to results of a new study. Those with hearing loss also appear to have a greater risk for cognitive impairment.

“I would argue going forward for next 30 or 40 years that from a public health perspective, there’s nothing more important than cognitive decline and dementia as the population ages,” said lead author Frank R. Lin, MD, PhD, assistant professor, otolaryngology, geriatrics, and epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

“So from a big picture point of view, identifying factors that are associated with cognitive decline and dementia are important, in particular those factors that are potentially modifiable.”

Although the study did not find a significant association between hearing aid use and rate of cognitive decline, Dr. Lin is convinced that addressing hearing loss could have an impact greater than just improving quality of life.

The study was published online January 21 in JAMA Internal Medicine, formerly known as Archives of Internal Medicine.


136 Drugs That Can Cause Cognitive Impairment

Here’s a nice website which leads to a 2-part list of drugs that can cause memory loss, confusion and other forms of cognitive impairment in older adults.



Ginkgo biloba for Prevention of Dementia — Forget About It

Several preclinical studies have suggested that Ginkgo biloba extract is neuroprotective, although some treatment studies (including meta-analyses) have shown little cognitive benefit. Americans are estimated to spend $100 million yearly on gingko in the hope that it enhances memory or prevents memory loss. To ascertain whether G. biloba prevents all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease, researchers conducted the Ginkgo Enhancement of Memory (GEM) study, a multisite, randomized, controlled 6-year trial.

Steven T. DeKosky, MD; Jeff D. Williamson, MD, MHS; Annette L. Fitzpatrick, PhD; Richard A. Kronmal, PhD; Diane G. Ives, MPH; Judith A. Saxton, MD; Oscar L. Lopez, MD; Gregory Burke, MD; Michelle C. Carlson, PhD; Linda P. Fried, MD, MPH; Lewis H. Kuller, MD, DrPH; John A. Robbins, MD, MHS; Russell P. Tracy, PhD; Nancy F. Woolard; Leslie Dunn, MPH; Beth E. Snitz, PhD; Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH; Curt D. Furberg, MD, PhD; for the Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study Investigators 

Published in JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association 2008;300(19):2253-2262.

In summary, in this randomized clinical trial in 3069 older adults with normal cognitive function or mild deficits, G biloba showed no benefit for reducing all-cause dementia or dementia of the Alzheimer type. A central issue in testing of complementary and alternative medications is the formulation of the compounds. This study used a requisite standardized formulation of G biloba extract with specified amounts of the active ingredients in a dosage based on the highest doses used and reported in the literature. The extract we tested is among the best characterized and is the one for which the most efficacy data are available. Thus, we believe that the results are applicable to other G biloba extracts. Based on the results of this trial, G biloba cannot be recommended for the purpose of preventing dementia.

I’ve personally had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Steven T. DeKosky, MD. Dr. DeKosky had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.  I am quite pleased and fortunate to have Dr. Oscar L. Lopez , MD as my personal neurologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).

This well-planned and well-executed study definitively answers the question of whether G. biloba prevents dementia. Considering the lack of efficacy reported here, these measures are unlikely to yield positive findings.

In the present economy, can people put the $100 million to better use? I don’t know the answer to this. However, I would not criticise anyone for taking and/or considering taking Gingko biloba.

Ckick here for the Gingko Fact Sheet.




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