Inability to balance on one leg may reflect stroke risk
Researchers in Japan say that if a person has difficulty standing on one leg for at least 20 second it may suggest damage to small blood vessels in their brain. And that could mean they have a higher risk of suffering a stroke.
Their study, published in the journal Stroke, found an association between a lack of balancing skills and a higher risk of damage in people who otherwise show no signs of it. Small vessel disease damages arteries by making them less flexible and interferes with the flow of blood. The chances of developing this condition usually increases with age.
The researchers asked participants to stand on one leg for up to 60 seconds with both eyes open. This examination was carried out twice, with the best recorded time from each participant used for the analysis. A total of 841 women and 546 men, with an average age of 67, participated in the study. Afterward, the brains of the participants were examined using MRIs to evaluate any brain blood vessel damage. Also, the scientists used questionnaires to test for cognitive problems.
The result was that people who couldn’t balance on one leg for more than 20 seconds were more likely to have blood vessel damage. That was particularly true if multiple brain lesions were found. Those people also had lower cognition scores on the questionnaires.
Those with damage tended to be older, with higher blood pressure and clear thickening of their carotid arteries.