Speech-in-noise hearing impairment is associated with an increased risk of incident dementia in 82,039 UK Biobank participants.
Stevenson JS., Clifton L., Kuźma E., Littlejohns TJ.
IntroductionLittle is known about the association between speech-in-noise (SiN) hearing impairment and dementia.MethodsIn 82,039 dementia-free participants aged ≥60 years were selected from the UK Biobank. Cox proportional-hazards models were used to investigate whether SiN hearing impairment is associated with an increased risk of incident dementia.ResultsOver 11 years of follow-up (median = 10.1), 1285 participants developed dementia. Insufficient and poor SiN hearing were associated with a 61% (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.61, 95% confidence [CI] 1.41-1.84) and 91% (HR = 1.91, 95% CI 1.55-2.36) increased risk of developing dementia, respectively, compared to normal SiN hearing. The association remained similar when restricting to follow-up intervals of ≤3, >3 to <6, >6 to <9, and >9 years. There was limited evidence for mediation through depressive symptoms and social isolation.DiscussionSiN hearing impairment is independently associated with incident dementia, providing further evidence for hearing impairment as a potential modifiable dementia risk factor.