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Grip Strength May Predict Heart Attack and Stroke

Life Line Screening

The news was everywhere. The New York Times, every local newspaper and all the wire services such as the Associated Press.


I’m not sure what everyone was supposed to do with this news. Run out and buy a stress ball and keep squeezing? Were doctors supposed to start measuring hand strength as a cardiovascular screening test?

This is what is wrong with these kind of headlines. The research was published in a major journal, The Lancet from a respected university, McMaster University in Canada.

It is true that the team found a greater risk of stroke and cardiovascular death in those with less muscle strength. But we’ve known that muscle strength is a general measurement of health and that loss of muscle strength is a general sign of aging. So while we may eventually be able to predict your risk of cardiovascular disease and death from a “handgrip dynamometer,” the best advice right now is keep walking, keep playing tennis, golf or throwing pots — or whatever it is you like to do.

But do get screenings that actually are predictive in a clear way. Keep on tabs on your arterial health, you heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation), cholesterol and glucose. These are dependable markers that doctors can act on.