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Grip strength may help indicate heart problems

By Charlie Cooper

The strength of a person's grip may indicate how likely they are to suffer heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular problems, according to a new report.

After studying the results of nearly 140,000 patients in 17 countries, researchers estimated that the surprising link - theorised before but not confirmed in such a large study - is real and may be an even more accurate predictor of mortality risk than systolic blood pressure.

Grip strength is measured using a device called a handgrip dynamometer. For every 5kg decline in strength, researchers from the McMaster University in Canada observed a 17% greater risk of death from cardiovascular causes - diseases of the heart and circulatory system.

Experts behind the study said that grip strength could potentially be used as a low-cost early warning system to identify patients at high risk.

The findings are published in The Lancet medical journal today.

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