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.
INTRODUCTION: Little is known about the association between speech-in-noise (SiN) hearing impairment and dementia. METHODS: In 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. RESULTS: Over 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. DISCUSSION: SiN hearing impairment is independently associated with incident dementia, providing further evidence for hearing impairment as a potential modifiable dementia risk factor.