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What your handshake says about you

HealthBy Sunday World
What your handshake says about you

The risk of a future heart attack can be determined by the strength of a handshake, according to a new study.

UK medical journal The Lancet carried out international research involving around 140,000 adults in 17 countries, coming to the conclusion that a weak grip is linked to health risks such as a heart attack or stroke.

Participants aged between 35 and 70 were monitored for an average of four years, with their grip being assessed using a handgrip dynamometer. Researchers measured the force that partakers exceeded when they squeezed an object as hard as they could.

Those involved were also asked to fill out a questionnaire which assessed their age, smoking preference, obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and family history of health problems.

The results found that every five kilos decline in grip made it 16 per cent more likely for the person to die from any cause, while they'd be 17 per cent more likely to suffer a cardiovascular death and at more risk of having a heart attack (seven per cent) or a stroke (nine per cent).

Doctors believe that grip strength could be used as a new tool to assess health risks, as they feel it's more accurate than blood pressure alone.

"Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual's risk of death and cardiovascular disease," Dr Darryl Leong, one of the researchers at McMaster University in Canada, explained.

However, why poor heart health could be determined from a weak grip is still unknown. It could be to do with hardening arteries reducing muscle strength, but Doireann Maddock, from the British Heart Foundation, isn't fully convinced. She believes more studies need to be held before a precise link can be made.

"The findings of this study are interesting. However, it doesn't explain why grip strength should be related to cardiovascular disease.

"More research is needed to understand any possible link between the two," she added.

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