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How the Strength of Your Grip Could Predict Future Heart Attack

Man gripping his Chest

New research published in The Lancet has made an interesting discovery.

If you have a weak grip, you might have an increased risk of heart disease.

Bear in mind, this does not speak to a “weak” or “strong” handshake, but the relative strength of your grip.

So how exactly did they come to this conclusion?

To set up such a study, researchers took 139,691 people, who ranged in age 35 to 70 and followed them for four years. As the New York Times notes, the study “adjusted for age and height, [as well as average grip]. Average male grip ranged from about 67 to 84 pounds; for women, it ranged from 54 to 62 pounds.”

These individuals came from 17 different countries and these countries were quite disparate in regards to income level, with some being high-, middle- and low-income. The researchers also collected  data on the subjects’ height, weight, blood pressure, physical activity, dietary intake and other health and behavioral factors.

After following the subjects over four years, a grand total of 3,379 subjects died.

The researchers took into account all variables the dead had in common and then discovered “that each 11-pound decrease in grip strength was associated with a 17 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death, a 7 percent increased risk of heart attack and a 9 percent increased risk of stroke.”

One other thing they discovered was grip strength had no association with conditions like pneumonia, diabetes, and or falls and fractures.

Their one conclusion was a weak grip “was a stronger predictor of all-causes of death and of cardiovascular death than systolic blood pressure.”

Dr. Darryl P. Leong, who was the lead author of the study (and who is as an assistant professor of medicine at McMaster University in Ontario), commented on their findings.

According to Leong, they weren’t entirely sure if grip strength is simply a way to judge “good health” nor could they tell if increasing it would necessarily reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

But, he added, “As physicians, we recommend exercising most days a week, and this sort of study says we should be including resistance training as part of it.”

A reasonable conclusion.