News Release

Hand grip strength may be associated with cardiac function and structure

Stronger hand grip may be linked to heart shape and function indicative of reduced cardiovascular events

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Better hand grip strength may be associated with cardiac functions and structures that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular incidents, according to a study published March 14, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Sebastian Beyer and Steffen Petersen from the Queen Mary University of London, UK, and colleagues.

Hand grip strength, often used as a measure for muscular strength, has been previously associated with risk for cardiovascular incidents and mortality. However, little is known about the association between hand grip strength and the shape and function of the heart.

Beyer and colleagues gathered and analyzed cardiovascular magnetic resonance images and data on hand grip strength from 5,065 participants that were previously participants in the UK Biobank prospective cohort study. They then constructed a statistical model that accounted for potential factors that could impact the data such as baseline demographics, cardiac risk factors, drivers of muscle mass, and physical activity level.

The researchers found that participants with stronger hand grips were often pumping more blood per heart beat despite having a lower heart mass, indicating that the heart is suffering less from a condition called remodeling (reshaping) of the heart muscle (remodeling can occur in response to stressors such as high blood pressure or a heart attack). Less remodeling is known to reduce the risk for cardiovascular events. The authors suggest that these findings help improve our understanding of how heart shape and function may contribute to the association between handgrip strength and cardiovascular emergencies and mortality.

"Our study of over 4,600 people shows that better handgrip strength is associated with having a healthier heart structure and function," says Petersen. "Handgrip strength is an inexpensive, reproducible and easy to implement measure, and could become an important method for identifying those at a high risk of heart disease and preventing major life-changing events, such as heart attacks."


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Citation: Beyer SE, Sanghvi MM, Aung N, Hosking A, Cooper JA, Paiva JM, et al. (2018) Prospective association between handgrip strength and cardiac structure and function in UK adults. PLoS ONE 13(3): e0193124.

Funding: This work was supported by the following institutions: KF is supported by The Medical College of Saint Bartholomew's Hospital Trust, an independent registered charity that promotes and advances medical and dental education and research at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. AL and SEP acknowledge support from the NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Centre at Barts and from the "SmartHeart" EPSRC program grant (EP/P001009/1). SN and SKP are supported by the Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre and the Oxford British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence. This project was enabled through access to the MRC eMedLab Medical Bioinformatics infrastructure, supported by the Medical Research Council (grant number MR/L016311/1). The work of SB was funded by the Medical Research Council (MC_UU_12015/3). NA is supported by a Wellcome Trust Research Training Fellowship (203553/Z/Z). The authors SEP, SN and SKP acknowledge the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for funding the manual analysis to create a cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging reference standard for the UK Biobank imaging resource in 5000 CMR scans (PG/14/89/31194).

Competing Interests: Steffen Petersen provides consultancy to Circle Cardiovascular Imaging Inc., Calgary, Canada. The other authors declare that they have no competing interests. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.

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