As we get older, many things change in our bodies. We lose touch with the newest fashion trends, or which new phone is better than the other. Oh, and our body becomes a bit rickety as well.
As we age, one of the first things to go is our cardiovascular health. When you think about it, the heart is an incredible organ that works continuously for decades without stopping. Unfortunately, much like the engine in a car, it slowly loses its power down as the years go by. While this brings with it many cardiovascular diseases, some researchers think it may also bring about olfactory dysfunction – in other words, we lose our sense of smell.
Olfactory dysfunction occurs in many diseases, from neurodegenerative diseases to straightforward nasal disorders. Even Covid-19 causes olfactory dysfunction. However, the relationship between olfactory dysfunction and cardiovascular disease is uncertain. Both occur in patients as they age, yet some studies suggest that the two might be linked somehow.
In one such study, a team from the Hallym University College of Medicine in South Korea wanted to investigate the relationship between olfactory dysfunction and cardiovascular disease. In particular, they wanted to know if a patient’s gender played a role in the relationship. This study would double as support for one side of the argument or another and reveal a possible new link in the story.
The team gathered data from over 20,000 patients in the Republic of Korea that had cardiovascular disease. There was a clear correlation between olfactory dysfunction and other aging-related issues. In particular, both coronary artery disease and abdominal obesity were independently associated with olfactory dysfunction. Women were more likely to experience olfactory dysfunction when they had abdominal obesity, while the same was seen in men with coronary artery disease.
This study suggests that there is a relationship between cardiovascular disease and olfactory dysfunction. The mechanism behind the relationship remains a mystery, with the study suggesting several possible mechanisms investigated in other papers. The team notes that if the relationship is true, olfactory dysfunction could be used as an indicator of cardiovascular disease, which would be a relatively straightforward symptom that doctors could pick up on early on. Unfortunately, there is a lot of conflicting evidence that supports both sides.
The study concludes, “Our findings suggest that CAD may be a predictor for olfactory dysfunction in males, whereas a large waist circumference may be a predictor for the disease in females, among middle-aged and older adults. Moreover, this study further showed an additive interaction between abdominal obesity and female sex.”