Posts Tagged ‘assessment’

At Hand: An Important Predictor

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

A simple tool that is used routinely by many older adult fitness professionals may hold more significance than was previously realized by the health and fitness community. That device, a staple at senior wellness fairs, is the hand dynamometer, which measures grip strength.

In addition to functional fitness implications, it now appears that diminishing grip strength may also indicate an increased risk for impending mortality. Researchers have found that decreased handgrip strength in the very elderly is associated with a higher risk for death.

A new study published online by the Canadian Medical Association Journal identifies waning handgrip strength as an important indicator of increased risk for death in octogenarians, as well as in persons beyond their eighties. The subjects of the study were 555 elderly men and women residing in the Netherlands. Their handgrip strength was recorded at age 85, and then again at age 89. Three important findings emerged:

  • Low handgrip strength at ages 85 and 89 was connected with an increased risk for death from all causes;
  • So was a significant decline in handgrip strength over time; and
  • With aging, the association between grip strength and the risk for death increases.
  • Does muscle strength directly affect mortality risk, or are other important variables more closely involved? Scientists don’t yet know the answer to that question. Researcher Dr. Carolina Ling and her colleagues at the Leiden University Medical Center say that the link between muscular strength and the risk for death is not well understood. Additional research should be undertaken.

    Even so, the study’s authors concluded that assessing handgrip strength can help health-care professionals target elderly patients who are at risk. Steps to preserve muscular strength can then be employed in order to improve those individuals’ probability for survival.