What does your handshake say about your heart health?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 by

Did you know that your hand grip can be used to gauge your cardiovascular health?

According to researchers at Queen Mary University in London, the strength of a person’s handshake is “an inexpensive way to predict heart health.”

For the study, scientists used handgrip strength, which was measured with a hydraulic machine. Participants were asked to squeeze a handle as strongly as they could for three seconds on both hands. The participants included over 5,000 men and women who were aged 40 to 69 between 2006 to 2010 across 22 locations in the U.K. None of the participants had previous heart conditions. All of the study subjects filled out an extensive questionnaire before they underwent physical exams and gave biological samples. Some of the participants returned for follow-up exams.

The researchers then analyzed magnetic resonance images (MRI scans) of the participants’ hearts, which were compared to data on their hand grip strength. The team determined that a stronger hand grip is connected to heart shape and risk of heart problems. Meanwhile, a weaker grip implied a greater risk of lasting damage from heart conditions. Out of the 5,065 participants, the study found that those with a stronger hand grip pumped more blood per heartbeat even though they had a lower heart mass and had a smaller chance of heart remodeling, which refers to what happens when a patient has high blood pressure or suffers a heart attack. (Related: Good for body and mind: Women who go for a walk at least twice a week reduce their risk of heart failure by 20 percent.)

Data from the study showed that a whopping 17.3 million deaths per year worldwide are due to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Alarmingly, the figure is expected to go up to 23.6 million by 2030.

Dr. Steffen Petersen, the study author, explained that taking these figures into consideration, researchers must soon determine the predictors of CVD to implement evidence-based prevention in individuals who are at risk. Dr. Petersen added that the researchers have confirmed that a stronger handgrip is linked to a healthier heart structure and function. The study was the first of its kind to prove this connection, which was not previously known.

He commented that measuring a person’s handgrip strength is an “inexpensive, reproducible and easy [way] to measure [heart health].” It could also be used to identify patients with a high risk of heart disease, and it can even prevent major life-changing events, like heart attacks. Dr. Petersen noted that the study findings can help experts understand the pathophysiologic process that can isolate a link between “handgrip strength and cardiovascular incidence and mortality.”

He concluded, “[Focused] surveillance and intervention may improve outcomes but further research is necessary to assess whether fitness training can reduce cardiac remodeling and prevent cardiovascular events.”

Heart-healthy foods that can prevent CVD

Eat more of these foods to prevent heart diseases:

  • Berries — Berries are full of phytonutrients and soluble fiber that are good for the heart. Sources include blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, or strawberries that can be added to cereal or yogurt.
  • Dark beans — Beans like kidney or black beans contain B-vitamins, fiber, minerals, and other nutrients.
  • Dark chocolate — Dark chocolate is good for your heart health, but check if it’s at least 70 percent cocoa.
  • Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids — Sources include herring, mackerel, salmon, trout, and tuna.
  • Healthy nuts — Sources include almonds or walnuts, which can satisfy your hunger and help your heart.
  • Oatmeal — Oatmeal is full of nutrients.
  • Orange, red, and yellow vegetables — Carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, and acorn squash are full of carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins.
  • Tomatoes — Both fresh and sun-dried tomatoes have alpha- and beta-carotene, lycopene, and vitamin C.

Read more articles about cardiovascular diseases and how you can prevent them at Heart.news.

Sources include:

Express.co.uk

Heart.ClevelandClinic.org



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