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Study finds link between hand grip strength and risk of stroke and heart failure

Researchers believe health professionals could test for hand grip strength to identify patients who are at risk.

Testing hand grip strength could be used as a quick, low-cost screening tool to help healthcare professionals identify patients at risk of heart failure and stroke, research has found. 

An international study published in The Lancet concluded that grip strength is a a stronger predictor of possible death than systolic blood pressure.  

Every 5kg decline in grip strength was associated with a 16% increased risk of death from any cause and a 17% greater risk of cardiovascular death.

It was also associated with a 17% higher risk of non-cardiovascular mortality and 7% and 9% increases in the risk of having a heart attack and stroke respectively, the study found. 

Lead author Darryl Leong, from 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.’

The study followed 139,691 adults aged between 35 and 70 years living in 17 countries for an average of four years.

Grip strength was assessed using a handgrip dynamometer and the associations persisted even after taking into account other factors, such as age and physical activity level.

Read more on the Lancet website. 

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