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Grip strength ‘simple test for heart disease risk’

Hand grip strength could be tested as a quick way to identify patients at high risk of heart attacks and strokes, as well as other major illnesses, researchers have said.

A large-scale study including nearly 140,000 adults from 17 countries, published today in the Lancet, has confirmed a strong link between low grip strength and poorer survival, as well as increased risks of MI and stroke, across all the different countries and regardless of other risk factors.

Overall, for every 5 kg decline in grip strength, there was a 16% increase in risk of death from any cause, and 17% increased risks of cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular deaths, while the risk of heart attacks went up by 7% and stroke by 9%. All the associations were seen after taking into account key factors related to mortality and heart disease including age, education, employment, physical activity and tobacco and alcohol use.

The authors say grip strength also proved a more powerful predictor of both all-cause and cardiovascular deaths than systolic blood pressure in a smaller, separate analysis.

The team, led by Dr Darryl Leon from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, concluded: ‘Our study suggests that measurement of grip strength is a simple, inexpensive risk-stratifying method to assess risk of death, particularly in individuals who develop a major illness, and that muscle strength is a risk marker for incident cardiovascular disease in a number of countries and populations.’

Lancet 2015; available online 14 May


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