Can your grip strength predict heart attacks and strokes?

The strength of a person’s grip may indicate how likely they are to suffer heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems, according to an extensive new study.

The study, published in The Lancet, also found that grip strength is a stronger predictor of death than systolic blood pressure, and  suggest that it could be used as a quick, low-cost screening tool by healthcare professionals to identify high-risk patients among people who develop major illnesses such as heart failure and stroke.

Exactly why our muscle strength should be an indicator of heart disease risk or not yet clear, but the effect was observed in people of from different countries, income groups and of ages ranging from 35 to 70.  The findings show that every 5kg decline in grip strength was associated with a 16% increased risk of death from any cause; a 17% greater risk of cardiovascular death; a 17% higher risk of non-cardiovascular mortality; and more modest increases in the risk of having a heart attack (7%) or a stroke (9%).

A low grip strength was linked with higher death rates in people who suffer a heart attack or stroke and non-cardiovascular diseases, for example cancer, suggesting muscle strength can predict the risk of death in people who develop a major illness.  

It is still unknown why worsening heart health could manifest as a weaker grip. Some suggestions include hardening arteries which reduce muscle strength.

At Healthy Performance Towers, we found this study very interesting although it is clear more research will be required to understand the link between grip strength and cardiovascular disease.  The good news is we already know there are several established risk factors for cardiovascular disease and a Healthy Performance health check can assess your risk. We can also offer a Grip Strength Dynamometer Test as part of any health screening package.

In summary, whatever your situation, you can help reduce the impact of any cardiovascular risk factors by ensuring you adopt healthy lifestyle habits such as eating a healthy diet, quittiing smoking and keeping active especially, if you’re desk-bound at work.