With an increasing prevalence of dementia in the elderly population and treatment strategies limited to improving symptoms, there is a need to identify at-risk patients. Hearing loss (HL) has been identified as a risk factor for dementia, contributing to social isolation, depression and lower quality of life. In this population-based cohort study (n=16,270), researchers used data from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan to investigate the association between HL and incident dementia. Patients with newly diagnosed HL constituted the exposed group. Researchers found that the incidence rate of dementia was significantly greater in the HL group (19.38 per 1000 person-years, 95% CI 18.25 to 20.57) when compared to the non-HL group (13.98 per 1000 person-years, 95% CI 13.01 to 15.00). Based on an adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression, researchers also found that patients had a significant risk of incident dementia (HR 1.17, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.29). The findings of this study support prior evidence that HL is positively associated with a risk of dementia. This has important implications in modifying the risk of dementia in the elderly by way of hearing protection, screening and treatment of incident HL.
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