Could Losing Your Sense of Smell Signal Heart Trouble?

According to recent research, older adults who experience partial or complete loss of their sense of smell are 30% more likely to suffer from congestive heart failure compared to those with an intact sense of smell. Age-related decline in olfactory function typically starts around the age of 60, with previous studies indicating that smell impairment becomes more prevalent at this stage. Approximately one in four older adults suffers from some form of smell loss or impairment. Unfortunately, only around 30% of those experiencing loss of smell are aware of their condition.

It should be recognized that a decline in smell and taste often occurs naturally with aging. Given that this study primarily involved participants in their 70s, it’s expected that many exhibited symptoms of or were vulnerable to heart failure and loss of smell. Additionally, a weakened sense of smell is associated with cognitive decline, evidenced by reduced memory and language skills, and serves as an early sign of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

In this research, data from approximately 2,500 individuals participating in the National Institute on Aging’s Health ABC Study was analyzed. The participants, who initially joined the study in 1997 and 1998, were healthy older adults aged 70 to 79. The study followed them from their clinic visit in 1999 or 2000 for up to 12 years, or until they suffered a cardiovascular event or passed away. They examined the data to determine whether there was a correlation between olfactory loss and cardiovascular issues such as strokes, heart attacks, angina, congestive heart failure, or deaths resulting from coronary heart disease.

Upon concluding the study and adjusting for demographic factors, researchers discovered that participants with a loss of smell faced around a 30% risk of congestive heart failure, compared to individuals with normal olfactory function. The authors of the study also noted that they found no association between loss of smell and either heart disease or stroke.

The researchers indicated that these initial results imply a potential connection between diminished sense of smell and cardiovascular health in older adults, suggesting it could act as an early warning sign or predictor. The next phase involves expanding the research to include a more diverse range of participants. Should these results be validated, it will be crucial to explore the underlying mechanisms that associate olfactory loss with cardiovascular health.

To view the original scientific study click below:Olfactory Impairment and the Risk of Major Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes in Older Adults