Testing people’s hand strength could be a simple, low-cost way to screen them for the risk of heart attack or stroke.
Canadian-led researchers carried out a large-scale probe into evidence that a firm hand grip is a rough yet reliable indicator of good health.
Their study covered nearly 140,000 patients aged between 35 and 70 in 17 countries, whose health was monitored over four years.
During checkups, the patients were asked to grasp a gadget called a Jamar dynamometer, which measures muscle strength.
Every five-kilogram (11-pound) decline in grip strength was linked to a 16-percent increase in the risk of death from any cause over the study’s four years.
The decline was also associated with a seven-percent increased risk of a heart attack, and a nine-percent increased risk of a stroke.
The study found hand grip is a stronger forecaster of early death than systolic blood pressure.