The Atherogenic Index (ATH index) as a Potential Predictive Marker of Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss: A Case Control Study

The importance of blood lipids in the pathogenesis of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL) is widely discussed in the literature. However, the published results that hyperlipidemia causes hearing problems are contradictory. The objective of this study was to establish whether increased lipid levels affect the risk of idiopathic SSNHL.

A case-controlled study was conducted of 27 patients with idiopathic SSNHL and 24 healthy control subjects. All of the subjects underwent complete audiological examination. The plasma levels of total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), apolipoprotein (apo) A-I, apoB and apoE were measured with commercially available kits (Chronolab Systems, Spain). Several clinical ratios and indices of lipid metabolism were calculated.

Detailed analysis of lipid metabolism in patients with idiopathic SSNHL has shown that disturbances in auditory function are associated with increased atherogenicity of the lipid profile. However, there were no significant differences in the conventional parameters of lipid metabolism (TC, TG and HDL-C) between patients with idiopathic SSNHL and subjects in the control group. Higher values of the apoB/apoA-I ratio, atherogenic index of plasma (AIP) and atherogenic index (ATH index) in patients with SSNHL indicated increased atherogenicity of the lipid profile. Binary logistic regression analysis showed that of these three indices, only higher values of the ATH index were significantly associated with an increased risk of idiopathic SSNHL.

The ATH index can be used as a marker indicating the risk of idiopathic SSNHL when the conventional lipid indices are still normal.