Hand-grip strength associated with poor survival

February 8, 2010

Poor or declining handgrip strength in the oldest old is associated with poor survival and may be used as a tool to assess mortality, found an article in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). The fastest growing segment of the elderly population is the group older than 85 years, classified as the oldest old.

Low handgrip strength has been consistently linked to , disability and other health complications in middle-aged and older people. Handgrip strength, a simple bedside tool, can be an alternative way of measuring overall .

This study included 555 individuals from the Leiden 85-plus survey of all 85 year olds in Leiden, The Netherlands. Their handgrip strength was measured at 85 years and then again at 89. The CMAJ study, led by researchers from The Netherlands, found that low handgrip strength, both at 85 and 89 years, and a greater decline in strength over time are associated with increased all-cause mortality. The researchers also found that handgrip strength has a greater impact on mortality as people age.

"The oldest old population has been underrepresented in previous studies," write Dr. Carolina Ling, Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics and coauthors. "The objective of this study was to assess the association between muscular strength and mortality in the oldest old."

The underlying reasons why muscle strength and mortality are linked are not well known. The authors were unable to determine if muscle strength had a direct effect on mortality or if it was associated with other factors ultimately leading to death.

The authors conclude that measuring handgrip strength may not only identify older people at risk of a disability but may also aid in the survival of the elderly by being able to apply the correct strategies to help maintain muscle strength.

In a related commentary, Dr. Allen Huang, geriatrician at the McGill University Health Centre writes that the global population is getting older, and the fastest growing segment includes people 80-years and older. Society and the health care system need to acknowledge the rapid growth of this age group and prepare to meet its potential needs.

"Handgrip strength is an easy measurement for clinicians to obtain," states Dr. Huang, who is also an Associate Professor at the McGill University Faculty of Medicine. "Handgrip dynamometers, though not commonly found in physicians' offices, are simple, low maintenance devices."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Hormone therapy in the menopause transition did not increase stroke risk

November 24, 2017
Postmenopausal hormone therapy is not associated with increased risk of stroke, provided that it is started early, according to a report from Karolinska Institutet published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Moderate coffee drinking 'more likely to benefit health than to harm it', say experts

November 22, 2017
Drinking coffee is "more likely to benefit health than to harm it" for a range of health outcomes, say researchers in The BMJ today.

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.