Standing on one leg is an indicator of survival, says the study

Can you stand on one leg for ten seconds? This simple balancing test can serve as an indicator of the risk of death in up to ten years for people over the age of 50 and should be included in regular adult examinations.

The conclusion is based on a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine on Tuesday (21) which included four researchers from Brazil and others from Finland, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

The study analyzed 1,702 people between the ages of 51 and 75 between February 2009 and December 2020. They are participating in a group study (Clinimex Exercise), created in 1994 to assess the relationship between various stages of fitness. and death.

The results show that the inability to stand on one leg for ten seconds, starting at age 50, is associated with a total risk of death 3.8 times (17.5% in the group that did not complete the test and 4.6% in what they did. Completed). When adjusted for all medical criteria, such as gender and body weight index, the risk is almost double (1.84).

“It is even more dangerous than having a diagnosis of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure or dyslipidemic. [de ficar em uma perna só]”, says the study’s lead author, Dr. Claudio Gil Soares de Araújo, director of research and education at Clinimex (Practice Therapy Clinic).

Araújo states that in his medical experience, with more than 4,000 patients being seen, the oldest person to complete a balance test was 91 years. On the other hand, the youngest who failed to complete the test was 38 years old.

“Balance and other aspects of fitness, such as aerobics or non-aerobics, require training, especially when we begin to lose weight, that is, in the sixth decade of life.”

Research is investigative and, therefore, cannot establish a relationship of cause and effect. Another drawback is that information about factors that may affect equity, such as the recent history of falls, physical activity levels, diet, smoking and drug use, were not evaluated at work.

According to Araújo, one of the concepts that can explain the high risk of death is that people with balance problems are more likely to fall. Fractures due to falls are responsible for about 70% of accidental deaths in people over the age of 75.

In Brazil, there are more than 600,000 fractures of the femur per year, 90% of which are due to falls. The WHO (World Health Organization) launched June 24, next Friday, as World Day for the Elimination of All Forms.

According to orthopedic surgeon Jorge dos Santos Silva, president of the SBO (Sociedade Brasileira de Ortopedia), the Covid-19 epidemic in all its aspects has contributed to further weakening of the elderly, especially those over 80 years of age. high probability of collapse and collapse. “

Pediatrician Maísa Kairalla, coordinator of the outpatient clinic for outpatient Geriatrics and Gerontology at Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo), says the clinics are packed with frail older people and that a simple tool, such as the recommended weight scale in research. , can be of great value to health professionals.

“Especially in many areas where there is no time to make an effective assessment of muscle strength and balance. Or the limit can be made with telemedicine. one, “he says.

No data in the study published in the BMJ indicate that, by improving equity, the risk of falls or deaths will be reversed. “But we can assume that yes. Just reducing the risk of a collapse will already be a protective and prolonging factor,” says Claudio Araújo.

The aim of the study was to show that a simple and safe balance test can be a reliable indicator of the risk of death and, therefore, deserves to be included in routine adult screening.

In total, 1 in 5 (20%) of study participants failed the test. The inability to do so increased with age. The proportion of those who could not stand on one leg for ten seconds were: about 5% aged 51-55 years; 8% between 56-60 years; 18% between 61-65 years; and 37% between the years 66-70.

More than half (54%) of people between the ages of 71 and 75 failed to complete the test. In other words, people in this age group were 11 times more likely to fail the test than those who were only 20 years old.

During the average seven-year follow-up period, 123 people (7%) died: cancer (32%); cardiovascular diseases (30%); respiratory disease (9%); and Covid-19 complications (7%).
But no associations have been established between these deaths and the results of the equity test.

In general, those who failed the test were in poor health: for the most part they were overweight and / or had heart disease, high blood pressure, and poor blood pressure. Type 2 diabetes was three times more prevalent in the group that failed the test: 38% versus 13%.

According to the researchers, another drawback of the study was that since all participants were white Brazilians, the results may not be more widely used for ethnic and ethnic groups.

Advice from the lead author of the study: Seniors need to be careful if they decide to do self-testing scales. “Stay close to a wall or a solid table so you can lean in if you lose your balance or have someone around.”

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