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Trouble balancing may indicate health risks

Older people who have trouble balancing on one leg may be at higher risk for serious health problems.

Japanese researchers, studying a group of about 1,400 outwardly healthy adults with an average age of 67, found that many of those who couldn't balance on one leg for at least 20 seconds had cerebral small vessel disease, a condition that puts them at higher risk for strokes and cognitive decline. The disease is progressive, but in its early stages may not have any symptoms.

For the study, researchers timed participants as they stood with one leg slightly elevated and bent at the knee.

Researchers noted that the inability to balance on one leg "might be a consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities" and could indicate the person should be evaluated by a physician.


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