This week, Canadian researchers published a study in the British medical journal Lancet that claims a person’s grip is a stronger indicator of an impending heart attack than blood pressure readings.
The new study followed 139,691 adults aged between 35 and 70 living in 17 countries from The Prospective Urban-Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study for an average of four years. Grip strength was assessed using a handgrip dynamometer.
It is measured as the force exerted when a subject squeezes an object as hard as possible with their hands.
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).
Bottom line, if a person’s grip deteriorates strength-wise, there is reason to look further into the possibilities of why, and can be a way to prevent a person from dying. Decreasing muscle strength has long been associated with early death, but this is the first time a specific study has hinted at an objective way to measure that loss with a corrolation to heart disease specifically.
While this study does not assess the science of WHY hand strength diminishes as various diseases and conditions advance, it is interesting to note that when factors such as country of origin, aging, alcohol use, physical activity and the like were considered, the findings still held to be true. The study was conducted among people and researchers in Canada, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Poland, South Africa, Turkey, China, Colombia, Iran, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe.
Lead author Dr Darryl Leong, of McMaster University in Canada, said: “Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual’s risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
“Further research is needed to establish whether efforts to improve muscle strength are likely to reduce an individual’s risk of death and cardiovascular disease.”
And that appears to be the crux of the matter despite the warnings to “eat right” and exercise that skeptics advise in The Telegraph and Daily Mail. This research may well lead to a simple, non-invasive, cheap test that would assist medical professionals in knowing where to look when a person presents symptoms.