Seniors who are unable to balance on one leg for as little as 20 seconds may have an increased risk of stroke compared to others, according to the American Heart Association's journal "Stroke." Researchers say that inability to balance can be linked to declining cognition and small blood vessel damage in the brain. Since strokes are caused when blood is unable to reach the brain, that small blood vessel damage is a definite risk factor.
The senior health study consisted of more than 1,300 men and women with an average age of 67. Many of the seniors involved showed no other signs or symptoms of blood vessel damage or any other health concerns, but overall those with lower balancing times had a higher rate of small vessel disease.
While strokes become more likely as seniors age, one of the main risk factors for having a stroke is high blood pressure. Seniors can make changes in their lifestyle to lower their blood pressure and prevent strokes by altering their diet and the amount of physical activity they do, according to the National Stroke Association. Avoiding tobacco completely and limiting how much alcohol they drink are also important for preventing strokes in seniors.