Handshake strength key indicator of overall health

Firm handshake

How strong is your handshake? According to a new study, a weak grip is associated with increased mortality risk. On the flip side, a stronger one is being linked to better overall health.

The findings come from a Canadian study out of McMaster University that included nearly 140,000 adults aged 35 to 70. The research also spanned four years and 17 different countries. The results? After using a handgrip dynamometer to measure muscle strength, investigators reported that every five-kilogram decline in grip strength translated to a one in six increased risk of death.

“Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual’s risk of death and cardiovascular disease,” principal investigator Dr. Darryl Leong, an assistant professor of medicine and cardiologist, said in a press release. “Doctors or other healthcare professionals can measure grip strength to identify patients with major illnesses such as heart failure or stoke who are at particularly high risk of dying from their illness.”

The research isn’t the first to link a strong handshake to good health. An earlier study out of the University of Connecticut echoed the same ideas. In that study, researchers reported that grip strength was a solid predictor of mortality, disability, health complications and more. According to a 2011 UConn Today report, grip strength provides an accurate snapshot of a person’s overall vitality and may even be able predict details like post-op complications.

Even still, testing grip strength isn’t a commonly performed screening tool for most healthcare providers.

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