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11-07-2016 | Cardiology | News | Article

Grip strength may help target exercise interventions

medwireNews: Grip strength modifies the association between physical activity and mortality, shows an analysis of the UK Biobank cohort.

Among participants who took little exercise, those with poor grip strength had the highest mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, whereas having a strong grip had a protective effect.

And the findings published in the European Heart Journal show a similar, albeit less clear, effect for cardiorespiratory fitness.

Jason Gill (University of Glasgow, UK) and co-researchers note that current recommendations for targeting exercise interventions are based purely on patients’ current activity levels.

“Our findings suggest that targeting on the basis of strength, and possibly fitness, could greatly improve our ability to identify those individuals who could benefit most, thereby increasing the clinical and cost effectiveness of physical activity interventions”, they write.

Over a median 4.9 years, 8591 (1.7%) of the 498,135 study participants died. Their self-reported physical activity at baseline correlated significantly with mortality risk, but the effect was strongest among participants in the lowest tertile of grip strength.

Among these people, the risk of mortality was increased 1.51-fold for those in the bottom versus the top quintile of physical activity, whereas the risk increase was just 1.19-fold among people in the highest tertile of grip strength. The mortality risk increase per one quintile reduction in physical activity was 1.11-fold and a still significant 1.04-fold for people in the bottom and top tertiles of grip strength, respectively.

There was a similar pattern for cardiorespiratory fitness, but its influence on the association between physical activity and mortality was not statistically significant. And the same was true when using CVD events as the outcome (3433 events over median 2.1 years), although the associations were slightly weaker than for mortality. Again, the combination of low physical activity and weak grip strength was the strongest predictor of outcomes.

The researchers observe that cardiorespiratory fitness “is not easy to measure in routine clinical practice”.

But they say: “[G]rip strength requires little training, is simple and cheap to administer, and has high reproducibility. Therefore, it could easily be administered as a screening tool in routine clinical practice to identify individuals for whom increasing physical activity would be particularly beneficial.”

By Eleanor McDermid

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2016