You’ve probably never thought about your heart’s affect on your hearing, but there’s plenty of research that shows that your cardiovascular system can impact your ear health. In other words, the stronger your heart, the better your ears can do their jobs.

How are the heart and ears connected? Blood flow brings vital nutrients such as oxygen and glucose to the inner ear, allowing for proper function. Insufficient blood flow can damage hearing. Unlike other sensitive systems, the inner ear doesn’t have a backup blood flow, so if blood vessels are damaged it can cause permanent hearing loss.

Researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin found that the link between the inner ear and the cardiovascular system is so integral that cardiovascular issues might be detected earliest by looking at a patient’s inner ear. Other research has found that hearing loss rarely occurs on its own. When hearing loss is present, oftentimes there are other health problems as well. That’s why many professionals believe hearing loss shouldn’t be assessed alone but cardiovascular and other system health should be looked at as well.

If you’re at risk for heart disease or if you’ve already been diagnosed with a heart condition, keep your hearing in mind and be vigilant about getting your hearing checked as often as your physician or ear, nose, and throat doctor recommend.