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Is your handshake weak? You might be facing higher chances of death

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Posted May 9, 2018

How strong are your hands? What‘s your handshake – firm and strong or maybe sloppy and relaxed? These are just some curious questions, but your grip strength is actually very important in terms of diagnostics. Scientists from the University of Glasgow say that a week grip could be a sign of increased risk of a variety of diseases.

Stronger grip can be linked to a smaller chance of death and generally better health. Image credit: Rufino via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Measuring the grip strength is quite easy. There are special medical devices (that are rather simple) which allow people to squeeze a handle and reveal their maximum grip strength. Furthermore, grip strength tests are very quick and cost pretty much nothing. They could be easily added to routine checks, allowing doctors to identify people who have elevated risks of developing certain conditions. Week grip strength could signal cardiovascular disease and even cancer, while a strong grip is a sign of a lower risk of all causes of mortality.

Scientists looked at the data of 500,293 people the UK Biobank. They were looking for associations between the grip strength and health. They found that a week grip of both men and women can be linked to a higher incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer. Interestingly, this link was stronger in younger population. While these results are quite intriguing, they do confirm what previous studies have already claimed – low muscle strength can be linked to higher mortality. Now scientists are sure that grip strength test could become a useful diagnostic tool, aiding current risk prediction scores.

So imagine that next time you visit your doctor, he would make you squeeze a simple little tool. It would provide a measurement, which then could be used to determine your grip strength levels in accordance to the standards. Of course, your weight, age and sex would be taken into consideration. Dr Stuart Gray, lead author of the study, said: “Our findings are important because they indicate that the addition of the measurement of grip strength may be useful in screening for risk of cardiovascular disease in community or rural settings, and in developing countries where access to measurements, such as total cholesterol, is not possible”.

Grip strength test is simple, virtually free and very fast. The equipment is also already here. So it will be interesting to see how quickly it can be included into the work of general practitioners.

 

Source: University of Glasgow

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