Lower grip strength associated with worse health outcomes


Background: Previous studies have shown that lower muscle function is associated with increased mortality; however, studies have not been able to fully examine associations with age and disease-specific mortality.

Study design: Prospective, population-based study.

Setting: Large population cohort in the United Kingdom (UK Biobank).

Synopsis: The UK Biobank population included 502,293 individuals, aged 40-69 years, recruited during April 2007–December 2010, with grip strength data available. Mean follow-up was 7.1 years for all-cause and disease-specific mortality. Cox proportional hazard models were used to report hazard ratios (HR) per 5-kg decrease in grip strength and were controlled for multiple sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. A lower grip strength was found to correlate with all-cause mortality (HR, 1.16 in women; HR, 1.20 in men) as well as incidence of and mortality from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and cancer. Hazard ratios were higher among younger age groups with similar lower grip strength. The use of grip strength also improved the prediction of an office-based mortality risk score from cardiovascular disease.

Bottom line: Grip strength is a useful and easy-to-obtain measurement that is associated with all-cause and disease-specific morbidity and can be used to improve the prediction of an office-based risk score.

Citation: Celis-Morales CA et al. Associations of grip strength with cardiovascular, respiratory, and cancer outcomes and all-cause mortality: Prospective cohort study of half a million UK Biobank participants. BMJ. 2018;361:k1651.

Dr. Marr is assistant professor of medicine and an academic hospitalist, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

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