Get a Grip: Stronger handgrip may be linked to healthier heart function and structure

Get a Grip: Stronger handgrip may be linked to healthier heart function and structure

A firm handshake may make a good impression at job interviews, but can the strength of a handgrip also provide insight into someone’s heart health? Handgrip strength, often used as a measure for muscular strength, has previously been associated with risk for cardiovascular incidents and mortality. However, little is known about the association between handgrip strength and the shape and function of the heart.

To investigate this potential link, Sebastian Beyer and Steffen Petersen from the Queen Mary University of London, U.K., and colleagues gathered and analyzed cardiovascular MRI images and data on handgrip strength from 5,065 people who had previously participated in a separate study known as the UK Biobank prospective cohort study. They then used statistical modeling to account for factors that could potentially impact the data, such as demographics, cardiac risk factors, drivers of muscle mass, and physical activity level.

The researchers’ recently published PLOS ONE study found that participants with stronger handgrips 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 could help improve 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,” Petersen says. “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.”


Reference:  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.

Image Credit: Devin Stein, Flickr


Tessa is the Journal Media Manager at PLOS. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Rhetoric and Music. She can be reached by email at and on Twitter at @tessagregs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *