Using a Balance Test Can Predict Stroke Risk

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Using a Balance Test Can Predict Stroke Risk
Using a Balance Test Can Predict Stroke Risk

The ability to balance on one leg isn’t just a gymnastics move anymore. Rather, it can be an effective method in the medical field when assessing a patient’s risk for stroke.

New research has determined that the ability to stand on one leg and remain balanced for more than 20 seconds can clue doctors in on a person’s susceptibility to stroke risk. The study was conducted by researchers from the Center for Genomic Medicine at Japan’s Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine.

In the study, a group of about 1,400 men and women – with an average age of 67 – were evaluated for their ability to balance on one leg for one minute. An MRI scanned each participant’s brain while the activity was conducted. The MRI scans searched for what the researchers termed as “silent” strokes, or previously unnoticed microbleeds that might have occurred.

Results of the study revealed that those participants who were unable to balance on one leg for more than 20 seconds were likewise the same subjects who registered MRI scans with these tiny strokes. Moreover, these same participants also experienced a decrease in memory skills as well as other cognitive factors when compared to others in the study.

The American Heart Association recently documented the study’s findings in one of its many journals. The AHA’s journal, Stroke, indicated that one-third of those participants who had two or more tiny strokes found the act of balancing to be no easy task. As for those participants who had just one stroke, 16 percent of them found balancing on one leg to be a challenge.

While these tiny silent strokes might, at first glance, seem small (hence their going “unnoticed,” unless being scanned with an MRI), nonetheless, they can over time lead to further susceptibility that can in turn accumulate to something worse down the road. Indeed, these silent strokes are deemed to be precursors to more serious strokes as well as bigger repercussions in the brain’s neural wiring that could adversely affect functions.

Given the aforementioned, the medical field is now looking upon this simple balance test as an inexpensive method in assessing the health of a senior citizen. If the patient has difficulty balancing on one leg for more than 20 seconds, then he or she becomes a candidate for further follow-up and testing to evaluate his or her overall risk for stroke and possibly even other cardiovascular ailments or circulatory disorders.

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