Secret of Future Health lies in Hand Grip

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The strength of your handshake could signal the chance of a future heart attack, a major study in The Lancet suggests.

The research found the vigor of a person’s hand-grip could predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes – and was a stronger predictor of death than checking systolic blood pressure.

Experts said a grip test could be a simple, low-cost way to predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes. They also found that grip strength is a stronger predictor of death than systolic blood pressure.

The researchers suggest that it could be used as a quick, low-cost screening tool by doctors to identify high-risk patients among people who develop major illnesses such as heart failure and stroke.

A reduced muscular strength, which can be measured by grip strength, has been consistently linked with early death, disability, and illness. But there has been limited research on whether grip strength could be used to indicate heart health.

The findings show that every five kilos decline in grip strength was associated with a 16 per cent increased risk of death from any cause; a 17 per cent greater risk of cardiovascular death; a 17 per cent higher risk of non-cardiovascular mortality; and more modest increases in the risk of having a heart attack (seven per cent) or a stroke (nine per cent).

The associations persisted even after taking into account differences in other factors that can affect mortality or heart disease such as age, education level, employment status, physical activity level, and tobacco and alcohol use.

Commenting on the findings, Professor Avan Aihie Sayer, of Southampton University, and Professor Thomas Kirkwood, of Newcastle University said, “Loss of grip strength is unlikely to lie on a single final common pathway for the adverse effects of ageing, but it might be a particularly good marker of underlying ageing processes, perhaps because of the rarity of muscle-specific diseases contributing to change in muscle function.”

The countries involved in the study were Pakistan, Canada, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, China, Colombia, Iran, Bangladesh, India and Zimbabwe.

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