Research by the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) has captured the interest of international media– and it all started with a handshake. Results of an international study led by principal investigator, Dr. Darryl Leong were recently published in one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals The Lancet. The release captured the interest of international media with unprecedented coverage across print, TV and online. The study indicates that a weak hand grip is linked with shorter survival and a greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Findings also suggest that grip strength is a stronger predictor of death than systolic blood pressure.

PHRI researchers spent over four years gathering data from a 140,000 participants between the ages of 35 and 70 from 17 countries.  Results consistently showed that reduced muscular strength, measured by your hand grip, is linked with illness, disability and early death.

The findings indicate that for every five-kilogram decline in grip strength, there is a one in six increased risk of death from any cause.  Says Dr. Leong, “Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual’s risk of death and cardiovascular disease. “

Factors like age, sex, education level, employment status, physical activity, diet, tobacco and alcohol use, did not impact the participants’ results.

Hand grip influencers were dependent on the participant’s size and weight, and researchers concluded that more research will be required to understand the influence of ethnicity and people from different countries. Further research will also be required, adds Leong, to ascertain whether concerted efforts to improve an individual’s muscle strength could reduce the risk of illness or disease.

Dr. Leong has been much in demand by media since the release of the study results. Major news stations around the world are following the story with great interest. A sampling of media followers: CBC, CTV, Science Daily, WebMD, New York Times, NBC, Forbes, ABC Australia, Russia Today, Dailymail and  the Independent in the U.K., and MedIndia to name only a few.

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