A simple handgrip strength test can reveal if you’re at risk of type 2 diabetes

Updated on: 7 May 2021, 18:43 pm IST
A test as simple as the strength of your handgrip could help healthcare professionals identify patients at risk of type 2 diabetes.
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This method can prove to be helpful in devising diabetes prevention strategies! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Something as simple as the strength of your handgrip could help healthcare professionals identify the patients who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These methods can prove to be both time and cost-effective. 

Scientists at the universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland in their recent research took measurements of the strength of the muscular handgrip of 776 men and women who did not have a history of diabetes over a 20-year period. They used this data to demonstrated how the risk of type 2 diabetes was brought down by a good 50 per cent for every unit increase in handgrip strength value.

This is what the study says
Published in the
Annals of Medicine, the study suggests that diabetes is the ninth major cause of death in the world. Out of all the forms of the disease, approximately 90 per cent of diabetes patients have type 2 diabetes

There are multiple contributing factors like old age, obesity, and family history that increase the risk of type 2 diabetes in an individual. Apart from that, lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, smoking, an unhealthy diet and excessive alcohol also make a substantial contribution to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the risk is not just limited to these factors.

Reduced muscular strength, which can be measured by handgrip strength, has consistently been linked to early death, cardiovascular disease, and disability.

In a literature review of ten published studies on this very topic, the same researchers explained how people with higher values of handgrip strength had a 27 per cent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers formally tested this hypothesis by using individual patient data.

The participants of the study were aged between 60 to 72 years without a history of diabetes for over 20 years. The study measured the power of their handgrip strength using a handgrip dynamometer. The patients were asked to squeeze the handles of the dynamometer with their dominant hand and with maximum isometric effort for five seconds.

Track your sugar level to tame it better. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The result analysis explained that the risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by about 50 per cent for every unit increase in handgrip strength value. 

Factors that can affect type 2 diabetes such as age, family history of diabetes, physical activity, smoking, hypertension, waist circumference and fasting plasma glucose were taken into account. On being added to these established factors which are already known to predict type 2 diabetes, the prediction of type 2 diabetes improved further.

“These findings may have implications for the development of type 2 diabetes prevention strategies. Assessing handgrip strength is simple, inexpensive and does not require very skilled expertise or resources. It could, potentially, be used in the early identification of individuals at high risk of future type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Dr Setor Kunutsor from Bristol’s Musculoskeletal Research Unit.

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Upon doing a gender-based analysis, the researchers concluded that women are likely to benefit more from the use of this potential screening tool.

“These results are based on the Finnish population. Given the low number of events in our analyses, we propose larger studies to replicate these findings in other populations,” said Principal investigator, Professor Jari Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland.

The authors add that further research is needed to establish whether efforts to improve muscle strength such as resistance training are likely to reduce an individual’s risk of type 2 diabetes. 

(With inputs from ANI)

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