Simple Test May Help You Prevent Stroke
Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted: either by being blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures.
A stroke is a medical emergency, but a new study may have found a way to help prevent stroke by identifying those at risk before they show any symptoms.
If you do experience any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, lack of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Prompt care can help prevent permanent brain damage.
But what if stroke could be prevented?
A new study from Japan may have revealed a simple test that can show you are at risk for stroke well-before you show any symptoms.
The study found that the ability to balance on one leg for less than 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease, an indicator that small bleeds and “silent strokes” have taken place in the brain already.
These small bleeds and lesions may have no outward symptoms but they indicate that the patient may be a major risk for stroke in the future.
According to the American Heart Association, participants in the study stood with their eyes open and raised one leg. The participants were tested twice for a maximum time of 60 seconds. The participants’ best times were then compared to MRIs to see if they had evidence of silent strokes or micro-bleeds.
Researchers found a statistically significant correlation between the inability to balance and the presence of brain damage from cerebral small vessel disease:
- 34.5 percent of those with more than two silent stroke lesions had trouble balancing.
- 16 percent of those with one silent stroke lesion had trouble balancing.
- 30 percent of those with more than two micro-bleed lesions had trouble balancing.
- 15.3 percent one micro-bleed lesion had trouble balancing.
Overall, those participants who had cerebral small vessel disease were also older, had high blood pressure, and had thicker carotid arteries.
Dr. Richard Libman, chief of vascular neurology at North Shore-LIJ Health System in New York, says the authors may have developed a simple balance test that would provide an early indicator of risk for stroke.
“This test may be an inexpensive, low-tech method to screen people for small vessel disease who are most likely at risk for further strokes and brain damage.”
It’s important to realize that being able to stand for 60 seconds on one leg does not mean you have no risk of stroke. The test does not show that. Rather, the test shows that if you are unable to stand on one leg for at least 20 seconds, you may have a higher risk. Please consult your medical professionals.