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Hand-grip strength predictive of heart attack and stroke risk

Written by | 23 Jun 2015 | All Medical News

by Bruce Sylvester: Weakening grip strength is associated with increasing overall mortality and with increasing risk of heart attack or stroke, researchers from a large international study reported on May 13, 2015 in The Lancet.

“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,”  said lead investigator Darryl Leong, M.D., Ph.D, from the Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

The investigators from The Prospective Urban-Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study tracked  for an average of four years 139,691 adult subjects, between 35 and 70 years-old,  from 17 countries.

They measured grip strength using a handgrip dynamometer.

They found that with every 5kg decline in grip strength there was a 16% increased risk of death from any cause, a 17% increased risk of cardiovascular death, a 17% increased risk of non-cardiovascular mortality, a 7% increased risk of having a heart attack and an 8% increased risk of stroke.

The associations persisted even after the investigators adjusted for differences in age, education level, employment status, physical activity level, and tobacco and alcohol use.

In an accompanying Comment, Professor Avan Aihie Sayer from the University of Southampton, Southampton, UK, and Professor Thomas Kirkwood from Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK wrote, “This is not a new idea, but findings from PURE add support. 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.”

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