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It is well known that being overweight, smoking and other bad lifestyle choices can increase your risk of having health problems such as a stroke or heart attack. However, doctors now think they might be able to determine a person's risk just by looking at their palm.
New research, published in the Lancet, has found that how strong grip is could be a better indicator of a person's health risks than blood pressure.
The trial included nearly 140,000 people across 14 countries and could give doctors a simple and inexpensive way to find the patients who are the most vulnerable to a heart attack, stroke or other health problem.
However, why a person's grip can be such a good indicator of health risk is yet to be determined, but some think it could be related to hardening arteries reducing muscle strength.
It's well known that maximum grip declines naturally as people age, but those whose strength fades quicker could be at the highest risk of health problems, according to the study.
For example, a woman in her mid-20s can expect to have a grip of about 75lb (34kg), but this will drop to 53lb by the time they enter their 70s.
The research found that each 11lb reduction in grip strength increased the odds of an early death by 16 per cent, while the chance of a fatal heart problem grew by 17 per cent and a stroke by nine per cent.
Dr Darryl Leong, one of the researchers at McMaster University in Canada, said: "Grip strength could be an easy and inexpensive test to assess an individual's risk of death and cardiovascular disease.
"Further research is needed to establish whether efforts to improve muscle strength are likely to reduce an individual's risk of death and cardiovascular disease."
The researchers say that grip strength is a more accurate way of assessing risk, and could replace current tools.
Written by Megan Smith
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