It’s amazing what something as simple as a hand squeeze can reveal about your health.
Hand grip strength (HGS) – a measurement of the force exerted by the forearm and upper arm – is linked to muscle health, biological age, and cardiovascular disease risk. In general, those with stronger grips tend to live longer, healthier lives and those with weak grips are at higher risk of developing and dying from cardiovascular disease.
While researchers were aware of the connection between HGS and cardiovascular disease, in 2015 the correlation received a boost. That year, the Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study published their findings on the prognostic value of grip strength.
The highly publicized study, reported by The New York Times, Harvard Health Publishing and others, concluded that “grip strength is a strong predictor of cardiovascular mortality and a moderately strong predictor of incident cardiovascular disease.” Their findings make a strong case for incorporating HGS measurements into routine health checks.
The Relationship Between Grip Strength & Cardiovascular Risk
The PURE study surveyed just under 140,000 participants aged 35 to 70 from 17 high-, middle- and low-income countries. Researchers measured participants’ HGS with a Jamar dynamometer over the course of four years.
After adjusting for factors including smoking and drinking history, diet and exercise, researchers found that each 11-pound decrease in grip strength was linked to a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease. From this, they concluded that “low grip strength is associated with increased susceptibility to cardiovascular death in people who do develop cardiovascular disease.”
Researchers also deduced that HGS was an even stronger predictor of cardiovascular mortality than systolic blood pressure, which is the most common measurement of arterial pressure during heart beats.
The Importance of Monitoring for Heart Disease
Across sexes and all racial demographics, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US.
According to the American Heart Association, regular screening for signs of cardiovascular disease (or disease progression) is key to lowering your risk of dying from vascular events like heart attacks and strokes. When heart health is closely monitored, patients may take steps to improve their health and mitigate the risk of cardiovascular mortality.
Because the correlation between HGS and cardiovascular mortality is so high, some have proposed that grip strength tests be included in routine medical checks: in 2016, a study was conducted in the UK to explore the feasibility of measuring grip strength during preventive health care appointments.
Hand Dynamometers for Better Monitoring
HGS may not yet be regularly measured during routine health appointments, but sports medicine physicians, physical therapists and chiropractors do regularly assess patients’ grip strength.
Grip strength can be measured on regular, analog grip gauges (like the Jamar dynamometers used in the PURE study) or more technologically equipped gauges like KINVENT’s KForce Grip.
Let JLW be Your Partner in Improved Patient Health Outcomes
At JLW Instruments, we are encouraged by the growing recognition of grip strength measurement as a key health indicator.
Our team has supplied physicians and physiotherapists with dynamometers, gauges and strength plates for three decades.
In January we became an authorized distributor and exclusive calibration partner of the KINVENT line of digital, wireless measuring devices. The revolutionary rehabilitative devices are integrated with the KFORCE App, which tracks and stores biometric data.
We believe KINVENT’s sophisticated technology and the visual, accessible reporting available on the KFORCE App, could revolutionize the way HGS is measured and tracked -- improving cardiovascular health assessment and outcomes.