Odd Hand Sign Reveals Deadly Health Risk

This one hand trait may reveal your future cognition, mobility, functional status and mortality

By Amanda Loudin, June 15

The Washington Post – People have long judged each other for the firmness — or lack thereof — of a handshake.

A strong grip generally conveys confidence or even power, while a limp grip sometimes comes across as disengaged or weak.

But recent studies indicate that grip strength can reveal far more than your personality; it can serve as a window into how healthy — or unhealthy — you are.

And as you age, experts say, your grip strength can be a measure for how likely you are to develop and survive diseases such as cancer, heart disease and more.

A 2016 systematic review of many studies involving people 60 an older found that grip strength “has a predictive validity for decline in cognition, mobility, functional status and mortality.”

Experts say that handgrip strength works as a stand-in for measuring general body strength and muscle mass, which declines with age. The advantage of measuring grip strength as a marker of health, say researchers, is that it is affordable and convenient, key for rural and other populations that may not have easy access to medical care.

“It’s not a perfect measure of overall muscle strength, but a good one” since loss of muscle mass is linked to many diseases and as early as midlife grip strength can be an indicator of disability later in life, says Stuart Gray, lecturer in exercise and metabolic health at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences who focuses on age-related loss of muscle mass.

To measure grip strength, researchers use a simple $200 device called a dynamometer. Subjects squeeze it to reveal the amount of force applied. “It takes five to 10 minutes to train someone to use the device,” Gray says, “so it’s an easy application.” Read more. 

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