Standing on one leg — hint to dementia
by Joanne Henning Tedesco —
A study by researchers at the Medical Research Council has found that balancing on one leg may indicate if a person is at risk of dementia or stroke. The scientists found that an inability to stand on one leg for more than 20 seconds was associated with microbleeds and “silent” strokes. These small brain injuries did not cause symptoms, but scientists warned they could indicate growing problems and are known to increase the risk of both stroke and dementia.
Lead researcher Dr. Yasuharu Tabara from Kyoto University in Japan said, “Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention, as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline.”
The study consisted of 841 women and 546 men with an average age of 67. They were asked to stand with their eyes open and one leg raised for a maximum of 60 seconds. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were also done to assess the levels of cerebral small vessel disease, which can interfere with blood flow.
The research, published in the journal Stroke, showed that those with more than two lacunar infarction lesions had trouble balancing. “One leg standing time is a simple measure of postural instability and might be a consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities,” said Tabara.
Earlier in the year, researchers at the Medical Research Council found that the ability to stand on one leg may predict which 53-year-olds are at risk of early death. The 53-year-old participants who could balance on one leg for more than 10 seconds and stand up and sit down in a chair more than 35 times in a minute were found to have the least risk of dying prematurely.
Joanne Henning Tedesco is editor of AzNetNews.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 34, Number 1, February/March 2015.