The strength of your handshake could indicate the chance of a future heart attack, a major study suggests.
Researchers found that the vigour of a person's grip could predict the risk of heart attacks and strokes - and was a stronger indicator of death than checking systolic blood pressure.
The study in The Lancet, involving almost 140,000 adults in 17 countries, found weak grip strength was linked to shorter survival and a greater risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Reduced muscular strength, which can be measured by grip strength, has been consistently linked with early death, disability, and illness. But there has been limited research on whether grip strength could be used to indicate heart health.
Grip strength was assessed using a device that measures the force exerted when a subject squeezes an object as hard as possible with their hands.
The findings show that every five-kilo decline in grip strength was associated with a 16 per cent increased risk of death from any cause; a 17 per cent greater risk of cardiovascular death; a 17 per cent higher risk of non-cardiovascular mortality and more modest increases in the risk of having a heart attack (seven per cent) or a stroke (nine per cent).
Overall, grip strength was a stronger predictor of all deaths, including those from heart disease, than systolic blood pressure.
The associations persisted even after taking into account differences in other factors that can affect mortality or heart disease such as age, education level, employment status, physical activity level, and tobacco and alcohol use.
Dr Darryl Leong, of McMaster University in Canada, who was the lead author, 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."