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Could a weak handshake mean a weaker heart?

Monday 19th March 2018
People with weak handshakes may be more likely to suffer from a weaker heart, new research suggests. Image: littlehenrabi via iStock
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A weak handshake could be a sign of a weaker heart, according to the findings of a new study.

Research conducted by scientists from the Queen Mary University of London drew on data from 5,000 individuals who had taken part in the UK Biobank study.

Participants were asked to grip a dynamometer, which was designed to measure the strength of their grip, for just three seconds, while detailed scans of their hearts were also taken.

From this data, experts were able to determine a link between the strength of a person's handshake and their cardiovascular health, finding that those with a weaker grip typically had weaker hearts that were not as efficient at pumping blood around their bodies.

What's more, a link was made between weaker hand grip strength and the likelihood of a person having an enlarged or damaged heart.

This could therefore be a quick and accurate way to assess patients' heart health in the future, allowing them to be referred for further checks or for appropriate treatment after simply gripping an object, rather than having to undergo invasive testing.

Professor Steffen Petersen, lead author of the research, commented: "Our study shows that better hand grip strength is associated with having a healthier heart structure and function.

"Hand grip strength is an inexpensive, reproducible and easy-to-implement measure, and could become an easy way of identifying people at high risk of heart disease and preventing major life-changing events, such as heart attacks."

Christopher Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, which provided funding for the study, explained that further research would be required to assess the link between weak grip and cardiovascular health in greater depth.

"This research does not mean you will have a heart attack if you find yourself with a limp handshake or struggling to open a jar," he emphasised, encouraging people to speak to their GP if they have any concerns about their heart health.

Written by Mathew Horton

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