How Your Hand Grip Relates to Heart Health

The strength of your hand grip may be associated with cardiac functions and structures that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular incidents, according to a study recently published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Sebastian Beyer and Steffen Petersen from the Queen Mary University of London, UK, and colleagues.

Hand grip strength, often used as a measure for muscular strength, has been previously associated with risk for cardiovascular incidents and mortality. However, little is known about the association between hand grip strength and the shape and function of the heart.

Beyer and colleagues gathered and analyzed cardiovascular magnetic resonance images and data on hand grip strength from 5,065 participants that were previously participants in the UK Biobank prospective cohort study. They then constructed a statistical model that accounted for potential factors that could impact the data such as baseline demographics, cardiac risk factors, drivers of muscle mass, and physical activity level.

The researchers found that participants with stronger hand grips were often pumping more blood per heart beat despite having a lower heart mass, indicating that the heart is suffering less from a condition called remodeling (reshaping) of the heart muscle (remodeling can occur in response to stressors such as high blood pressure or a heart attack). Less remodeling is known to reduce the risk for cardiovascular events. The authors suggest that these findings help improve our understanding of how heart shape and function may contribute to the association between handgrip strength and cardiovascular emergencies and mortality.

“Our study of over 4,600 people shows that better handgrip strength is associated with having a healthier heart structure and function,” says Petersen. “Handgrip strength is an inexpensive, reproducible and easy to implement measure, and could become an important method for identifying those at a high risk of heart disease and preventing major life-changing events, such as heart attacks.”

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Materials provided by PLOS

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